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Sunday morning TV is full of infomercials selling pickups and preachers selling hellfire and damnation.

But this past Sunday, Static couldn’t get away from Chesapeake Energy’s infomercial selling the wonders of the Barnett Shale (this is the same outfit that buys huge billboards and full-page newspaper ads and probably tattoos “Chesapeake is God” on their momma’s foreheads). Called an “ongoing investigative series,” the half-hour “Citizens of the Shale” was on three times before noon Sunday, and though the drilling company promoted the show as a way to “catch all sides of the Barnett Shale debate,” it was, yup, one-sided.

It isn’t that Static expected a fair and balanced presentation. But every time a citizen offered even a mild suggestion that all this urban drilling might disrupt the peace in their city, Chesapeake steered quickly back to the theme of “Together, We All Win.” The economists and business leaders sang in that chorus, and Arlington Mayor Dr. Robert Cluck even stood in an emergency room to tell us that gas drilling would solve respiratory problems. They pounded and pounded on how only idiots wouldn’t like Barnett Shale. Not to be overly cynical here, but a company that buys six hours of air time must feel there is a pressing need to hammer their propaganda into the brains of the local citizenry.

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If Chesapeake wants to buy TV time and spout the corporate side of this debate, fine. But don’t call it an “ongoing investigative series.” The only people who would believe that are, well, the folks who would buy a used pickup or a prayer rug from a TV huckster. Not much real info, but a lot of (com)mercial goin’ on there.
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Static’s on all the best mailing lists, unfortunately, spending hours every day deleting e-mails from across the political, religious, nonaligned-whacko and other publicity-seeking spectra. Who knows when an innocent-looking message labeled “press release” will turn out to be yet another clever disguise for body-part-enlargement hucksters? Of course, some files are devoid of news content but are worth opening just to see, for instance, what seemingly minor action has set off the Minutemen’s air-raid sirens again.

Then there are State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh’s e-newsletters. He takes tidbits from newspapers and other sources (all attributed, of course), adds some of his own reports and commentary, and turns out an excellent short-version of Stuff You Should Know for that week.

Who, for instance, could resist the recent one labeled “TCEQ in Wonderland”? The title alluded to a quote from Jim Marston of the San Antonio Express-News, comparing a statement by the chairman of the state environmental agency (who said, in effect, that Texas air is healthy) to Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, who explained that, “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, if you didn’t know, is yet another state agency seemingly more interested in protecting polluters than monitoring them.)

In fact, inspired by bureaucrats in both Austin and Washington, Static is thinking of starting a list called “Six Lies Before Breakfast.” How hard can it be to find that many jaw-droppers each day, between the morning news programs, the papers, and omigod, radio talk shows? We’d ask for nominations – but that would just increase the e-mail load.

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