Billionaire Obama donor Tom Steyer, who is funding and leading the environmentalist campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, will air an anti-Keystone ad on MSNBC before and after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. The minute-long ad, entitled “Sucker Punch,” claims that Canada may not send its tar sand oil through the pipeline to the U.S., and implies it will send the oil to China instead.
The ad closes on an image of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, suggesting a sinister foreign collaboration to damage American interests. Last August, NBC rejected another Steyer-funded ad against the pipeline, a satirical take that fellow anti-Keystone activist and anti-globalization author Naomi Klein described regretfully at the time as “incredibly crappy and xenophobic.”
Steyer has also been criticized for having made much of his fortune through investments in the oil and gas industry. Ezra Levant of Sun News wrote last year: “Steyer hasn’t campaigned against OPEC oil. It’s Canadian oil he’s against. The same Canadian oil that helped make him rich.” Steyer is also investing in a rival pipeline that would carry the oil to the Canadian province of British Columbia. He promises to donate the profits.
It is thought that Steyer’s donations, and his ability to organize other donors in the San Francisco area, play a key role in the Obama administration’s repeated decisions to delay the Keystone XL project. Steyer hosted fundraisers for Obama last year on Billionaires’ Row in San Francisco at which the president famously predicted that Nancy Pelosi would recover the Speaker’s gavel in the House of Representatives.