Teagagged! Born In Offshore Drilling, Tea Party Protest Silenced Over Organizers’ Links To 2008 “Drill Here! Drill Now!” Campaign

This article was first published in Alternet.

Why are the hoppin’-mad Teabaggers so oddly quiet these days, ever since the BP oil disaster? That’s what Thomas Frank, author of What’s The Matter With Kansas? asked last week in his column, “Laissez-faire Meets The Oil Spill.” Ideologically, it’s painfully obvious why the Teabaggers are now the Teagaggers: their free-market gospel got mugged by oil-drenched reality — a reality so horrific that even pollster Frank Luntz couldn’t spin the BP disaster as the government’s fault. Best to just shut up when you’re that wrong.

But there’s another, more concrete reason why the Tea Party revolutionaries melted back into their suburbs as soon as the enormity of the Gulf spill disaster hit: The Tea Party evolved out of the pro-offshore drilling astroturf movement in 2008. They even share some of the same organizers and front groups, from PR operative like Eric Odom, to advocacy groups like FreedomWorks, whose combined efforts on the “Drill Here! Drill now!” astroturf campaign succeeded in opening up all of America’s coastlines and waters to offshore drilling, overturning a 27-year ban thanks to threats of “a Boston-style Tea Party,” as one Republican put it in the summer of 2008.

We have been following this movement from the beginning. Back in February 2009, on the eve of the first Tea Party protest, we published the first investigative article exposing the hidden relationship between the fake-”spontaneous” Tea Party protests that month, and the Republican machine that backed and promoted the campaign. Our research led again and again to the right-wing Koch brothers, who are worth a combined $32 billion as owners of the largest private oil company in America, Koch Industries. Koch-linked front groups like FreedomWorks and the Sam Adams Alliance (named after the leader of the original Boston Tea Party) played key roles in both the 2008 campaign to deregulate offshore drilling, and in the Tea Party movement.

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