Vol. 1, Issue 19, September 23, 2003
Exxon Mobil Plot Stranger Than Fiction
The Exxon Mobil Corporation has been implicated in a plot to stifle persistent environmentalist opposition to its drilling practices and attempts to gain access to protected wildlife refuges.
"This is, frankly, a rather novel approach to tackling what is for Exxon Mobil a persistent problem," said federal prosecutor Tammy Bowen. "Although the implications of this scheme are extremely worrying, I nonetheless do feel a certain grudging admiration for the sheer inventiveness of the effort."
Federal prosecutors allege that in 1994 Exxon Mobil quietly formed a dummy corporation, Earth Cycles Inc., staffed with a group of undercover employees. Earth Cycles made a modest debut selling homeopathic remedies and nutritional supplements marketed at the vegetarian community.
Once its reputation was sufficiently established, however, prosecutors say the true plan of the company was initiated.
"In June 2002 Earth Cycles claimed to have made a breakthrough in 'transferable photosynthesis,'" said Bowen. "This process allegedly enabled people to gain all their nutritional requirements by wearing special clothing capable of photosynthesis, much in the same way that plants get their energy from the sun."
Using a charismatic front man, Terrence Greenway (actually an actor named Robert Weston) who claimed to rely solely on the "Photosuit" for sustenance, Earth Cycles marketed ordinary green spandex unitards as the most "environmentally friendly way to eat." The company heavily stressed genuine recent scientific findings suggesting that plants experience pain as a means of convincing hard-core vegetarians to seek an alternative.
"Consumers were told that if they put on these green tights and went off to stand in the woods for several weeks, they wouldn't need to eat anymore," Bowen continued. "And an astonishing number seem to have done just that."
As of press time, over six thousand vegetarians and environmental activists were unaccounted for. The "Photosuit" instructions suggest that users need to find a "secluded spot" in the wilderness, and that they should remain immobile without eating or drinking for ten to twelve weeks in order to let the suit "take full effect."
"Many of our most active volunteers have gone missing," lamented Greenpeace Planet Project Director Danielle Hickie. "I wish they'd thought to bring cell phones."
Exxon Mobil will be charged under the RICO act for fraud and false advertising, although it is unclear whether charges can be brought for any users who may have expired while wearing the product. Like most homeopathic devices, it bore a disclaimer noting that the FDA had not evaluated its claims, which will probably absolve Exxon Mobil from liabilities for any deaths which ensued from people realying solely on the fraudulent "Photosuit" for nutrition. Prosecutors may file additional charges in weeks to come.
"They got us," said Lee Raymond, chairman of the board and CEO of Exxon Mobil. "But it was worth it."