Obama's Former Communications Director Anita Dunn Pitches "Ethical Oil" Keystone XL Ad

Read time: 2 mins

Ezra Levant is the man behind an attempt to re-frame the Alberta tar sands as “ethical oil.” “Ethical” - Levant's deceptive public relations campaign argues of the tar sands “carbon bomb” - because it doesn't come from the war-ridden and human rights-abusing Middle East. 

Now, the “ethical oil” campaign has a new backer: Anita Dunn, former White House Communications Director for President Barack Obama and current Principal of SKDKnickerbocker, a public relations firm with offices in Washington, D.C.; New York City and Albany.

SKDK - as covered here on multiple occasions by DeSmogBlog - does PR for Transcanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline. Transcanada has paid SKDK - and by extension, Dunn - to place ads in strategic television and radio markets in the Washington, D.C. area. 

America imports millions of barrels of oil from the Middle East every week,” a narrator says in an ominous tone in the most recent ad, as images of violent protests in the Middle East blare across the screen. “But we don’t have to.”

The T.V. ad then switches to serene music and landscape views with pipeline stretched across it, alluding to “ethical oil” coming from Canada if the northern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL pipeline is approved by both the U.S. State Department and President Barack Obama.

The radio ad - also singing the “ethical oil” tune - claims that building the northern half of the Keystone XL will create “over 40,000 good American jobs.” Independent studies point to it creating 35 full-time jobs and 3,950 temporary construction jobs

The New York Times explained that Transcanada paid Dunn and SKDK to place the “ethical oil“-style ad “to reach power players in Washington’s media market.”

Dunn's husband is Robert “Bob” Bauer, President Obama's personal attorney since he arrived in Washington, D.C. as a U.S. Senator in 2005; Obama's election law attorney for his 2008 and 2012 electoral campaigns; former Obama White House Counsel during his first term in office and former Counsel for the Democratic National Committee. 

A decision on the northern half of the pipeline is not expected for months, yet one thing remains certain: the deceptive “ethical oil” meme and theme will pollute the airwaves throughout that time period, and it just found a new promoter in Anita Dunn. 

Photo Credit: White House Photo by Pete SouzaWikimedia Commons 

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Quick, someone should tell Ms. Dunne an off colored joke and see if she clutches those pearls. The kind of joke with ladies and gentlemen parts in it.

Jiminy Crickets, we got one side promoting oil and gas for the oil and gas producers and one side complaining oil and gas production isn't being promoting hard enough. Is there anyone left in government minding the store, i.e.. the environment? The few environmentalists left in any position of importance are out of a job. The political appointees at DOE, DOI and EPA are environmental capitalists that promote clean oily goo and sustainable “special” waste. And don't get me started on the sleaze coming down from Canada's Harper's bazaar of ne'er-do-wells and scallywags. 

I'm surprised the TV ad didn't include unicorns traipsing through tailing ponds on their way towards the sugar plum forest.

Desmog needs to get to the bottom of who funds ethicaloil.org. There has to be a way to trace the money.

So another 'communication director' seems caught in the lie.   Or rather displays the spin of a contortionist.   

It may be time to keep score of these kamikazi PR hacks… It seems the carbon fuel sector requires this kind of career suicide nose dive. 

Great report, grim to witness.  


This Ezra Levant guy appears to be a neocon in addition to his hatred of people who are for environmental protection, i.e.. environmentalists. The premise of his book is (per a Wikipedia look-see) that Middle East oil is bad because Arabs and Muslims hate women and freedom or something. Tar sands are good because Canadians. Maybe? I wonder what his thoughts are on the Leviathan gas and oil field off of Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon in the eastern Mediterranean Sea? Has he tried to beat down liberals by stating that anti oil-sands environmentalists are misogynistic goyim yet? 

if Obama has any sense he would just say no now. People are becoming zombies in the climate change battle. Look at whats happening in Auz with Abbot, UK with Cameron and NZ. And here in BC with Christy Clark. People are just zoning out and martch over the climate cliff.

I'm in the US right now, and I was just talking to a sales rep I know.  He's says, that sales of equipment to the tar sands have completely dried up.  However for some reason, sales of the same equipment is growing in California.  (Yup. Their tar extraction is growing.)

But the best part? Sales in US solar manufacturing is positively booming, growth has indeed been exponential.

Solar is freaking everywhere down here compared to dirty old Alberta.  This is good news as far as I'm concerned.