[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]
Dear Dr. Steve,
You call yourself a spin doctor. But you're always on here shooting your mouth off about this and that, which doesn't buy you so much as a can of sardines. Why don't you stop bloviating, get off your lazy behind and try to make a living for once? The government of Alberta has a real gig for you — they're looking for someone to shift public opinion on the oil and gas industry. That ought to be right up your sleazy little alley.
Look, I said I was going to pay my rent and I will. It's not my fault that you don't take bottles.
But sure, a new gig is always a welcome prospect. And this Alberta thing sounds intriguing. Premier Kenney does seem to have money to throw around, judging from another recent provincial initiative — Alberta just announced they will give debit cards worth $100 to people who get vaccinated.
Sounds like the start of a windfall for Albertans — they could be in line for plenty of bonuses. How about 50 bucks for not pissing in the street? Hard to prove, probably. And pretty expensive if Darryl expects a cheque every time he manages to hit the urinal at Mikey's Bar. Still, it's a solid idea for private industry. Participating Dairy Queens could offer a free Blizzard to every customer who refrains from peeing on the counter.
According to the Alberta government's proposal request, bidders for the fossil fuel PR campaign must show a “demonstrated ability to change perceptions about messages and values,” with the goal of “building a social movement” in support of Canada’s oil and gas industry.
Similar things have been done. Saudi Arabia has spent wads to encourage the adoption of conservative Wahhabi Islam. Oil-rich Texas has thrown its weight behind the battle to destroy Roe v. Wade and with it American women's right to control their own bodies.
If oil money can spread those ideologies why not the ideology of oil itself? It should be an easy sell — in fact it's already underway during every televised football game. Join the Church of the Dodge Ram and receive the blessed gift of torque, best-in-class towing capacity, and zero-percent financing. Add manna from heaven — or Jason Kenney — and you ought to get back a hundred bucks' worth of amen and hallelujah.
Still, anybody can shell out cash and Dr. Steve knows he is a long shot for this job. The successful bidder is supposed to show evidence of past campaigns that have demonstrably changed public opinion. Dr. Steve can't convince a cat off a keyboard. But he can feel the landlady's hot breath just outside his locked door. So without further ado Alberta, here's the glorious Dr. Steve plan for a Fossil Fuel Fiesta:
1. Own the Libs
We will remind Albertans that every climate-related incident, every fire and flood and tornado, is one more tweak to the nose of smug, pedantic liberals. Every time you fill up your tank you make an environmentalist cry into your tasty mug of liberal tears.
Of course this angle just preaches to the choir. We also need to reach people who don't already pour 10W30 on their breakfast cereal. For that the oil and gas industry needs a charismatic and influential spokesperson, someone who will appeal to those who care about the future of this planet.
Happily, Dr. Steve has the perfect candidate: Greta Thunberg. Who better than the young Swedish activist to convince people that oil is a gas?
Here's how the plan will work:
1. Contact Greta Thunberg
A pretty solid pitch, you'll agree — strong enough to turn things around for Alberta's oil and gas industry and more importantly, get the landlady off Dr. Steve's back. Otherwise he will have to get a real job. Gladys says Dairy Queen is hiring extra security.
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