GOP Congressmen Parrot Glenn Beck's Lies On The House Floor

June 23, 2010 3:00 pm ET — Alan Pyke

House Republicans Dan Burton (IN) and Louie Gohmert (TX) have joined Glenn Beck's Chalkboard Brigade of conspiracy theorists. In separate floor speeches Tuesday night, Burton and Gohmert endorsed Beck's latest wild-eyed theory.

Monday on Fox News, Beck claimed that President Obama gave $2 billion to the Brazilian state-run oil company PetroBras "just days" after conservative boogeyman George Soros strengthened his investment in the company.

The very next evening, the two Republican congressmen repeated Beck's baseless charge on the House floor. While criticizing the moratorium on offshore drilling brought on by the Gulf oil spill, Rep. Burton said that "we just sent $2 billion to Brazil so they can do offshore drilling."  Moments later, Burton parroted Beck's fantasy version of events: "We don't need to be sending Mr. Soros money in Brazil so he can make more money by doing offshore drilling with our taxpayers' money."

Not to be outdone, Rep. Gohmert said the U.S. is "apparently standing for $2 billion to help Brazil do deep exploration, and that'll make hundred of millions for Mr. Soros."

Watch:

The problem — for Beck and the GOP — is that none of this is true. Bush appointees at the independent Export-Import Bank approved the loan, not President Obama; and George Soros upped his investment in PetroBras in late 2008, some months before the bank made its preliminary commitment to the company.

FactCheck.org demolished this house of cards back in September:

This claim stems from a "preliminary committment" made back on April 14 by the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The bank intends to loan up to $2 billion to finance exports to the Brazilian oil company Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., known as Petrobras, over the next several years.

The e-mail is false on two counts.

  • The message falsely says the decision was due to an "executive order" by the president. No presidential order was required. Furthermore, none of President Obama's appointees had joined the Ex-Im board at the time of the vote, which was unanimous, and bipartisan. The Ex-Im Bank states: "In fact, at the time the Bank's Board consisted of three Republicans and two Democrats, all of whom were appointed by George W. Bush."
  • The message falsely claims that "we have absolutely no gain" from the loan. In fact, the loan is being made specifically to finance purchase by Petrobras of U.S.-made oilfield equipment and services. The mission of the Ex-Im Bank is to encourage exports by making such loans.

[...]

The message claims that George Soros would "benefit most" from the loan, but that is also a baseless accusation. Soros is a favorite whipping boy of conservatives because of his early financial help to the liberal group MoveOn.org. And he is indeed a major investor in Petrobras, through his New York-based hedge-fund firm, Soros Fund Management LLC. But the hedge fund recently sold 22 million shares of common stock in the company (which carry voting rights) while buying 5.8 million shares of preferred stock (which is non-voting.) As reported by Bloomberg News, Soros reduced his stake in the company before any of the Ex-Im Bank's promised loan has been dispensed.

Glenn Beck is an excellent snake-oil salesman, and he's selling this as proof of his warped worldview. But why are Burton and Gohmert buying? Why are Republicans in Congress trumpeting a false accusation that can be debunked in five minutes of Internet research?  

If Congressional Republicans had real ideas about government or policy, they wouldn't be blindly following Glenn Beck's paranoid whimsy. If they had real ideas they wouldn't be panhandling for new ideas on the Internet. With a feeble RNC and no clear leader in Congress, the Grand Old Party is tacking toward the wingnuts and regurgitating the conspiracy theories of rightwing ringmasters.

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum put it best, in an interview with ABC: "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we're discovering we work for Fox."

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