Who Taught George Santos to Be Such a Self-Serving Fraud?

The surreal saga of George Santos, bizarre Republican congress critter and self-serving fraud.

People are baffled by the surreal saga of George Santos, bizarre Republican congress critter, self-serving fraud and bottomless sinkhole of lies. How could he think that he, a highly visible public figure, could get away with such blatant fabrications?

Perhaps he thought he was a corporation.

After all, these multibillion-dollar brand-name outfits routinely lie about who they really are. Crass polluters shamelessly run PR campaigns claiming to be environmentalists; price gougers pose as consumer champions; and economic downsizers glorify themselves as visionary creators. They gild their resumes for their own profit… and they get away with it. So, George might’ve thought: I’ll follow the corporate model — just make stuff up.

Like soulless tobacco executives do. For decades, they killed millions of people for profit, flat-out lying that nicotine was not addictive, that their cancer sticks were not deadly and that they did not target their ads to children in order to hook them early. But wait — today’s tobacco titans claim to be born-again public health champions! “We have an unprecedented opportunity to move beyond smoking,” said the head honcho of the Phillip Morris brand, asserting that Big Tobacco would henceforth back the public push for a “smoke-free future.”

Phillip Morris garnered widespread praise for this bold stand. But it was a deliberate lie. Even as the executive’s lips moved, the tobacco giants were spending billions on lobbyists and PR campaigns to gut state and national proposals to prevent addiction and actually lead to a smoke-free future.

Yes, we should be outraged that Santos, a flagrant political fake and self-serving fraud, has swindled his way into Congress, and he should be ousted. But what will Congress do about the far more destructive corporate deceivers who are George Santos’ role models? Their lies kill people, yet they’re still welcome in the halls of Congress.

Prevaricating for Profit

Why would anyone believe anything that a big corporation tells us?

Corporate powers use lies as a core element of their business strategy. I’m not even counting the tsunami of polished, poll-tested lies they call “advertising.” Rather, I mean their secret perversions of facts to hide the deadly harms they and their products cause, all pushed by top executives and elite investors in cynical efforts to keep profiteering at the expense of customers and society at large. Pharmaceutical price gougers, Wall Street bankers, tobacco giants, gun makers and pesticide peddlers are notorious examples — but none can top the perfidy and raw greed of Big Oil.

For example, a new report reveals that Exxon Mobil’s executives not only were aware that their petro-products might soon lead to catastrophic climate change, but their own scientific analysts had proven it beyond a doubt — and told them so in 1977! Indeed, Exxon’s internal findings turn out to have been much more accurate and damning than the warnings issued by government scientists and officials.

So, did Exxon’s executive hierarchy meet the scientific and ethical challenge presented to them? No. The simply lied to everyone: Congress, the media, the people. In 1999, CEO Lee Raymond tried to BS his way past the truth, snorting that global warming projections “are based on completely unproven climate models, or more often, on sheer speculation.” Exxon’s contemptible dishonesty continues to pour out of corporate headquarters today. Asked recently if Exxon has misled the public about looming climate danger from its fossil fuel profiteering, current CEO Darren Woods proclaimed that the corporation’s previous lies were “entirely consistent” with the scientific consensus of the time.

Obviously, that’s another flagrant lie, which is entirely consistent with the corporation’s profiteering model. And don’t forget that CEOs are lavishly paid liars — Woods pockets $23 million a year to prevaricate for profit.

Jim Hightower