EDITORIAL- Over a barrel

Generally, we’ve tried to resist conspiracy theories about big oil companies manipulating the world market to line their pockets. That became harder last week after several American companies announced record profits. As high fuel prices roil consumers and Congress considers a variety of measures to ease the impact, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the world’s No. 1 and No. 3 oil companies, weighed in with record third-quarter earnings that totaled almost $19 billion.

Riding a wave of high prices for oil, gasoline and natural gas, Exxon reported third-quarter net income of $9.92 billion, up 75 percent from the year-ago period, on revenue of $100.72 billion. It was among the biggest quarterly profits of any company in history, and amounted to a per-minute profit of $74,879.23 during the quarter.

The Bush presidents have long been accused of being in cahoots with the oil companies. If this is untrue, now’s the time for G.W. to prove it. -DR

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