The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently published a story about Citgo gas stations in Pittsburgh finding a dip in gasoline sales. The piece sympathetically portrays Hugo Chavez, the America hating dictator of Venezuela, as a victim attacked by mean American boycotters even as they then claim at the end of the story that it isn’t boycotters, but a down economy causing the dip (or maybe it isn’t, the story can’t make up its mind). So, if it is a down economy, why did the Trib-Review spend so much energy with the first half of the piece decrying a non-existent boycott of that poor, innocent Chavez? Why all this sympathy for Chavez? Your guess is as good as mine.

In fact, there aren’t a whole lot of facts presented in this piece at all, so when all is said and done, there is no real conclusion reached begging the question of just what the heck the point of the article was in the first place if it weren’t for exploiting the mean American boycotters angle?

The very first line in the piece sets the tone of pity for Chavez.

Greg Marnell thinks everyone has a right to do business in the United States, even Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

In their attempt to make a victim of Hugo Chavez, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review apparently had to find the most misinformed citizen of the city. Then our somewhat brainless Pittsburgh consumer blurts out his next absurdity.

“America’s the melting pot, isn’t it? Everybody has the right to come here and make money,” said Marnell of Monroeville.

Um, when did Hugo Chavez move to the USA to join its “melting pot” and when did he “come here” to make money? Last I checked he still lives in Venezuela and did not “come here.” Last I checked Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A is still owned by a FOREIGN nation and is not, strictly speaking, an American company. Therefore, the “melting pot” claim is invalid because that refers to people who have come here to live here, make their fortune here and raise their families here. Chavez has done none of that.

The PT-R next sets up their boycott scenario.

But Chavez’s increasing anti-U.S. antics may be hurting the oil-rich South American nation at the gasoline pump. So says gasoline distributor Don Bowers, who acknowledges motorists seem to be buying less gasoline from Citgo, a subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.

In recent months, Bowers, who heads gasoline operations for Superior Petroleum of Ross, said he is distributing “a couple hundred thousand gallons less” to Citgo gas stations and convenience stores. He declined to provide more detailed figures.

They even quote the wounded Don Bowers as wondering why people are reticent to buy gas from a company owned by one of America’s greatest self-proclaimed enemies, “I don’t know why people now are beginning to not buy. It didn’t bother them before, when Chavez was banging his shoe on the podium,” he said.

Well, could it be that Chavez has been seen meeting with Cuba’s communist terror Fidel Castro. Could it be his public tour of the oppressive Iranian regime? Could it be his repeated TV appearances where he calls the USA and our president about every name he can think of? Could it be his constant, clownish claims that the USA is making plans to “invade” Venezuela?

Could it be that Americans are just tired of this jerk’s antics and don’t want to spend their hard earned money at his gas stations?

But, wait. After half a story claiming that the sales are down and Americans might be boycotting the foreign ownership of this gas chain, suddenly the article shifts gears to say there is no downturn in sales but if there is it’s the bad economy and not American distaste with the South American dictator.

Oil industry experts said they have seen no nationwide shunning of Citgo gasoline.

“Maybe (Bowers’) sales are just down, he’s probably seeing weaker demand due to a weaker economy,” said Jim Williams, an energy economist and president of WTRG Economics, London, Ark.

Williams pointed out that nationwide, gasoline sales have been “tepid,” essentially unchanged from one year ago. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that for the first seven months of the year, gasoline sales were below the same month in 2006.

OK, Trib-Review, which is it? Is it a mean spirited boycott of that innocent Chavez or is the sales slump due to this horrible economy… or is there no downturn in sales at all?

Talk about a head spinning piece!

But, maybe there is method to the madness of this confused report, after all? Maybe this report is just an excuse to advertise that Chavez is giving away cheap heating oil now that a cold Pennsylvania winter is about to come upon us?

Citgo is involved in distributing discount-priced home heating oil, a program started last year by Joseph Kennedy, a former Democratic congressman and son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. The nonprofit Citizens Energy, which Kennedy operates, provided 100 million gallons of home heating oil at a 40 percent discount.

So, along with making any American seem mean and evil if they are patriotic enough to turn away from a foreign enemy’s stores, the Trib-Review wants to help Chavez advertise his propaganda program of selling cheap heating oil to American citizens.

Smooth, PT-R, very smooth.

The piece ends with this plaintive plea:

“I’m hoping there’s no impact on our business,” said Mark Tyke who with brothers Tony and Bob own Tyke’s Citgo in Monroeville, a full-service gasoline station founded about 50 years ago by their father and uncle. The Tykes have been Citgo retailers for a dozen years. “People aren’t dealing with Venezuela, they’re dealing with local people.”

Sorry Mikey, but a real American would hope you lose every penny and have to close your business down… unless you want to buy your oil from a company that is not one of our biggest enemies, of course. It’s called patriotism, Mikey. But apparently that is a word that you don’t know the meaning of.

It seems clear that, with a libertarian leaning editorial board, patriotism hasn’t much of a premium placed on it at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. And this is one of the failings of a libertarian point of view. It leaves no room for such trivial things as patriotism when business is to be conducted. That feeling, though, also leaves no room for taking into account the harm a foreign nation might do to us while conducting that business, as well (just ask the customers of GazProm).

So, the PT-R, with it’s acclaimed business oriented, libertarian mindset, doesn’t care if Hugo Chavez gets a propaganda coup out of the consumers in Pittsburgh. The PT-R pays no mind to the support that such an effort gives a communist dictator who is a vocal enemy of the United States.

Nice going Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Check your patriotism at the door and pump away.

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