In the summer of 1968, Universal Pictures was shooting a movie based on the best oil well fighter in the industry. Paul "Red" Adair was such a legend in the field of putting out these gargantuan fires that only one man could play the role-John Wayne. Just as shooting began in Hollywood, a wildcatter just made the oil find of his career when tragedy struck. Philip Anschutz's oilfield caught fire. This could have ruined the young man who bought the business from his father. Instead, an idea popped into his head. He called Universal and told them their movie could never look believable without a real, out of control, oil-field fire, and he had one.
* He charges the movie house $100,000 to film his fire.
* He takes the $100,000 and hires Red Adair.
* He goes on to become one of the wealthiest men in America.
Today, Anschutz has interests in energy, transportation, entertainment (owns cinema houses and backs movies), sports (owns the Lakers and DC United) as well as telecom and media outlets. But, his heart remains in energy, and he is at the forefront of trying to get New York to allow fracking, which has been officially banned for a couple of decades. There are powerful forces trying to stop any changes in the law despite the economic miracle that has come from fracking in general, but the Marcellus Shale in particular.
The usual suspects of concerned celebrities are raising their voices in an attempt to intimidate New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Alec Baldwin, Jeff Koons, Bonnie Raitt, Liv Tyler and many more say potential harm to the environment is too much to risk. Jeff Koons and Paul McCartney are maybe the richest artist and singer alive, but they couldn't make up one year of economic benefit that this same Marcellus shale formation has delivered in Pennsylvania.
These celebrities are asking people to give up not only economic security but also the sense of pride that comes from achievement. They get to hole up in private jets, exclusive enclaves, and exotic beaches when they need to find that creative touch. A man in New York shouldn't be denied the ability to provide for his family because of a bogus claim that drinking water will be destroyed. Instead, this caring 1 percentile would rather see a God send go begging.
When asked in a rare interview about that massive oil field fire, Anschutz replied: "It's important to have your back to the wall ... it makes you think outside the box."
Hardworking Americans are suffering, and their backs are against the wall. If a cabal of superstars and wanna-be superstars can't think out of the box, it's too bad, but if Andrew Cuomo succumbs to their pressure he isn't fit to lead the state or the nation.
Speaking of politics, the Republican national convention starts this week, and maybe Mitt Romney steps to the plate with ideas and vision. The mainstream media has been taking great pains to portray Romney as indifferent and unlikable, but efforts to dismiss his skills at achieving never stuck. So, in addition to articulating his message, somehow we are being told he has to come across as a nice guy, too. Even as the nation is being ripped apart by envy and hate we are being told if Romney doesn't smile a lot he will not have a chance. Even as fear is the number one message of his opponents we are being told Romney has to be charming.
There is something to the notion of not being a robot, but it speaks volumes when charm is more valued than skill.
It speaks even louder volumes when charm has failed to get the greatest economy in the history of mankind back into gear.
It looks like a lackluster start, although well-known names are looking compelling. Tiffany's (NYSE:TIF) missed, but the stock is indicating much higher. On Friday Apple won $1,000,000,000 from Samsung, and the world's most valuable company will be higher as a result. This is the last week of the market marking time as everyone will be in gear next week, but you must know that the biggest moves have been during periods when there is a lull in interest and participation.