I've been tracking a tube of black putrid ooze, a toxic viper slowly slithering 2,000 miles across the belly of the US, swallowing all water aquifers, politicians and reason in its path - the XL Keystone Pipeline.
As Nagini, the murderous snake in the Harry Potter tales, had its master Voldemort, I figured the Keystone XL Pipeline must also have its own dark lords.
I smelled Koch. David and Charles Koch are each worth $20 billion - and they're quite certain that's not enough. And so they need the XL Keystone Pipeline.
The XL Keystone will take Canadian tar-sands oil, the filthiest crude on the planet, and suck it down to Texas gulf coast refineries.
Alberta's oil-glop reserve, if it can get to the US market, will warm the planet by nearly 0.4°C all by itself.
Why in the world would the US pistol-whip Mother Nature to bring oil to Texas? I mean, it's just plain weird to suck heavy tar oil out of Canada, and drag it across the entire middle of the US to import it into the oil-exporting Lone Star State.
Here's where a little lesson in oil chemistry comes in. You can't just throw any old crude oil into an oil refinery. These giant filth factories are actually quite sensitive. The refineries of the Texas gulf coast are optimised for heavy crude.
It would cost billions of dollars to rebuild the giant Flint Hills Corpus Christi Refinery, owned by Koch Industries, to use the less-polluting Texas oil drilled nearby.
The Kochs need heavy crude. But the Brothers Koch have a problem. Heavy crude is controlled by a heavy dude - President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
In case you haven't heard, the US Department of Energy now says Venezuela, not Saudi Arabia, has the world's largest petroleum reserve - including the overwhelming majority of the planet's heavy crude.
And Chavez is not giving it away. "We are no longer an oil colony, Mr Palast," Chavez told me in one of our meet-ups in Caracas.
He wasn't kidding. Venezuela's export price now averages around $100 a barrel.
So the Kochs have turned their gaze upward - to Canada, where Alberta oil men are selling their tar-sands gunk for a whopping $33 a barrel less than Chavez Heavy.
Do the maths - with 289,000 barrels a day refined at Corpus Christi, switching to Canadian Tar from Venezuela Heavy could put $3 billion a year extra into the pockets of the Kochs.
However, there's a problem. Between Canada and Houston is the US. At the moment, there's no pipeline that can take all that cheap crude south.
The southbound pipeline network now chokes at Cushing, Oklahoma, which is already blocked with 47 million barrels of crude sitting in storage tanks with nowhere to go.
The XL Pipeline would act as an oil enema, releasing the impacted inventory, enriching the Gulf refineries.
Cheap crude oil will then flow south, but as Canadian economist Robyn Allan writes, "It's the refining sector that sees the benefit of lower-priced WCS [West Canadian Sands oil] in the form of windfall profits from low feedstock costs."
The gusher of cheap crude from a new pipeline will enrich the refiners - none more so than refiners named Koch.
So all the Kochs have to do is get the US government to agree to pop a pipe through Cushing to Houston, the Keystone XL.
But that would require that the US government go stark raving mad, commit environmental suicide, reverse all policy to slow global warming - all to bring in foreign oil while the US itself is suffering from a major oil and gas glut.
How will the Kochs pull that off?
Solution: Congressman Tim Griffin.
Congressman Griffin is sponsoring a Bill to force the Obama administration to approve the XL Pipeline without the environmental review now required by law.
What's odd is that Griffin represents Arkansas, a state with no stake in the pipeline.
But the Kochs have a stake in Griffin. In his maiden run for Congress, Griffin was elected with an eye-popping $167,000 donation from the Kochs.
For the Kochs, $167k is peanuts. Their political action operation, Americans for Prosperity, built a quarter-billion-dollar fund this past year, a sum never seen even in the US politics cash swamp.
To answer the concerns about global warming raised by the XL and the Kochs' oil business, the billionaire brothers have bankrolled a gold-plated campaign of global warming denial.
For example, Americans for Prosperity funded "Hot Air Tour" rallies across the US with the slogan, "Global warming alarmism: Lost jobs, higher taxes and less freedom."
States on the pipeline's route could block the Keystone XL, but the crucial extension will originate in Oklahoma where the Kochs have cowed all resistance to their needs.
The Kochs' power to terrorise politicians in Oklahoma and the western states originates in that case of Osage tribe's missing oil.
FBI agents filmed Koch Oil men pilfering the crude, had witnesses to Koch directives to siphon the oil, and more.
The US Justice Department drafted a criminal indictment of Koch Industries and Defendant "67C" (reportedly Charles Koch himself) for "Crime on an Indian Reservation" and racketeering, big-time jail-time offences.
That's when Koch Oil drilled down and struck Bob Dole, the nation's most powerful senator, the Republican majority leader.
Dole - representing Kansas - joined by a Koch-funded senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles, had the federal prosecutor who brought the case fired.
Case closed, except for a few million paid to the Osage for some of their stolen oil.
Dole ran for president using Koch money given to Dole's not-for-profit foundation. It was a cheap buy for the Kochs because it was illegal - so Dole, when caught, had to give it back.
But one senator wouldn't let the oil theft go - Dennis DeConcini, chairman of the Senate special committee on investigations, whose report concluded: "Koch Oil is the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting."
The Kochs didn't like that. And when the Kochs don't like something, or someone, it's notably more serious than a "thumbs down" on your Facebook page.
In 1996 - yes, I've been investigating the Kochs for that long - DeConcini told me the Kochs had warned him that if he published and stood by the Senate's and the FBI's findings, the Kochs would destroy the senator's political career. They did.
Then there was the matter of the 97-count criminal indictment of Koch Oil for dumping poisonous crude sludge into rivers in six states. The Kochs didn't merely want to beat the rap - they wanted to continue dumping.
That would require buying a whole new Congress. No problemo, Pardner.
In 1996 Koch Industries, through a fake front called Coalition for our Children's Future, secretly funded millions of dollars in vicious attack ads against vulnerable Democrats just days before the election.
As a result, Republican Newt Gingrich kept his post as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Gingrich pushed an agenda he called "The Contract with America," which would eliminate criminal sanctions for pollution and slash rules against polluting.
The Centre for Public Integrity said it "seems to have been drafted and designed for Koch interests."
Wrong. The contract was drafted by the Kochs and crafted at the Heritage Foundation, a think-tank the Kochs founded.
Bill Clinton's administration, though nominally Democratic, went easy on Koch interests.
Vice-president Al Gore especially, head of the Reinventing Government Commission, attacked regulations with more verve than Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.
Gore's anti-regulation guidebook was the "mandate for change" drafted by the Democratic Leadership Council.
It was the DLC that had launched the career of the previously unknown Clinton, its first chair, and Gore's career as well. The DLC was created with $100,000 of Koch money.
But as if their billions, their think tanks, lawyers, fronts and political action fund were not enough to scare the bejeezus out of politicians, there is Themis.
Themis, created by the Kochs, is the nation's most sophisticated, detailed database on every US person alive, surpassing the most demonic dreams of the FBI.
Themis, for example, knows the last time you, Jack, downloaded porn.
Given their power and their Themis, is it really possible for a few greenies and some fact-afflicted scientists to stop the Kochs from jamming their pipeline right up our aquifers?
Absolutely. Indeed, that's the only way it will be stopped, because the Kochs have already put the politicians in their pipe and smoked them.
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