The Green Zone
Once a Swift Boat Ad Funder, Now Giving Millions to Energy Ads
By Matthew Mosk
The way Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens recalls it, he was sitting in a Dallas conference room earlier this year with other wealthy Republicans, discussing plans for financing an ad campaign to support Sen. John McCain's bid for president, when it hit him -- ending the nation's dependence on foreign oil was more important than who reaches the White House in 2008.
Pickens helped fund the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth commercials that helped defeat Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry in 2004, but while sitting in that May meeting, he decided to take a different tack for 2008: "I told the group, 'I'm out.'"
"I'm out of that," Pickens said in a lengthy interview this morning about his new mission to make ending dependence on foreign oil a national priority. "This is more important. I'm 80 years old and I told them, 'This is my mission.'"
Four years ago, Pickens said he got involved in defeating Kerry because "You're looking at what George Soros is doing on the other side, and thinking, 'What can we do to offset this?'"
This time, he said he did not feel that pressure. Instead of getting involved in an independent advertising campaign to help McCain, Pickens says he will devote $58 million to the ongoing ad campaign to promote his energy plan. He's doing it, he says, in hopes that both presidential candidates, and members of congress, will put this issue on the front burner.
"This is a real 527," Pickens said, referring to the tax designation given to independent political groups. "This is a lone wolf 527 that's absolutely nonpartisan."
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