Commentary: At SXSW, Schwarzenegger went from superstar to hypocrite


Arnold Schwarzenegger is undoubtedly best known for his legendary heroics on the silver screen. Covered in mud, he survives the “Predator” – killing it by exploiting its one weakness. As the “Terminator,” he protects John Connor from a homicidal shape-shifting machine to save humanity. An unhappy construction worker, he can’t remember who he is, but finally recalls — and with his last breath saves thousands of lives by releasing air into the Martian atmosphere.

Like the character he played in “Total Recall,” Schwarzenegger must be having a tough time remembering who he is – a former Republican governor of California.

In Austin this week for the South by Southwest festival, he revealed he has hired a team of California lawyers to sue oil and gas companies for “first-degree murder” by “knowingly killing people all over the world.” Instead of acting like a Republican, Schwarzenegger must be trying to play the hero again. The only problem is this isn’t the movies; this is real life — and there is nothing to “save” us from.

HOW WE GOT HERE: ‘Governator’ backs flexing legal muscle against polluting oil companies.

Like many of us, Schwarzenegger had a long commute to work. After he was elected governor, he decided not to move to the Governor’s Mansion at the California capitol in Sacramento; instead, he traveled more than 100 miles for seven years from his mansion in Brentwood, Calif. The only difference: He took a private jet, which cost around $30,000 a roundtrip and impacts the environment about the same amount as a small car does in three years. And when he’s not taking a private jet to work, he’s driving around in a five-ton, 12-miles-to-the-gallon Mercedes or going to lunch in a military-grade Hummer.

But now, according to the Governator, it’s “absolutely irresponsible” for oil and gas companies to sell their products because they “know [their] product is killing people.” Wait a minute, here. So, it’s OK for oil and gas companies to sell their products to Schwarzenegger when he needs to fill up his private jet or Hummer, but it’s not OK for them to sell their products to regular folks so they can drive their vehicles to work? This kind of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy is repulsive and offensive. Mr. Schwarzenegger is not a hero, he’s just another elitist Hollywood hypocrite telling you and me how to best live our lives.

The real heroes are the oil and gas workers – the landman, the roughneck, the petroleum engineer – who wake up every day and go to work to support their families and our way of life. Together, these workers produce around 10 million barrels of oil and 96 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day that fuel our cars, light our homes, and make plastics and many other items we use every day. The industry doesn’t just provide the raw materials to make the things we need – it also creates jobs and grows our economy. In 2015, the oil and gas industry supported more than 10 million jobs in the United States with an average salary over $100,000 and contributes more than $1 trillion to our economy every year.

COMMENTARY: Hey, Google! Bounce your SXSW lowrider out of East Austin.

Despite what Schwarzenegger may think, the story of energy before oil and gas was simple: Most work was done by human or animal muscle. This caused many people to live short lives of hard labor in extreme poverty. Before oil and gas were used to power the industrial revolution, the global average life expectancy was only 25 years old with 30 percent of children dying before age 15. During the 1800s, 80 to 90 percent of the population of the United States worked in agriculture and spent 74 percent of family income on food, clothing and shelter. Today, the average person lives more than three times longer than the average person in 1800. This is partly because climate-related deaths, such as starvation or hypothermia, have decreased 98 percent in the United States since the use of oil and gas became widespread at the beginning of the 20th Century.

It’s sad – but Schwarzenegger has gone from superstar hero to Hollywood hypocrite. On the one hand, he routinely uses gas-guzzling jets and cars while on the other he sues oil and gas companies. Given this stunning hypocrisy, I have a question. If oil and gas companies are murderers for selling their product, does that make Schwarzenegger an accessory for being such a good customer?

Christian was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2016.

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