At a wild conference at the National Press Club yesterday, the Yes Men’s Andy Bichlbaum – posing as “Hingo Sembra,” a representative of the US Chamber of Commerce – announced that the Chamber was reversing its “troglodytic” stance on climate change and throwing its full support behind the Kerry-Boxer climate bill.
According to the press release for the prank:
The Chamber has recently come under fire for launching multi-million dollar advertising campaigns designed to derail climate negotiations. Their position has been so controversial that Apple, Exelon, PNM Resources, PG&E, PSEG, Levi Strauss & Co, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce have all left the U.S. Chamber, and Nike very publicly stepped down from the board.
News outlets were quick to jump on the story, including a Reuters story which was reprinted in the New York Times and elsewhere. The Chamber’s “about-face” was also reported on Fox Business Network and CNBC before the anchors were forced to retract in mid-sentence.
At the end of Sembra’s remarks, [Chamber of Commerce spokesman] Eric Wohlschlegel confronted Bichlbaum. In the stand-off, both accused the other of being a fraud. The standoff ended with Wohlschlegel dispensing his business card to reporters in the room, and attempting to field a number of pointed questions about the Chamber’s real stance on climate legislation currently in Congress, which the real Chamber opposes. (Video here.)
The Yes Men collaborated on this action with activists from BeyondTalk.net, the “Climate Pledge of Resistance,” which calls on citizens to risk arrest in the interest of creating pressure for sane climate legislation, and received tactical support from the DC Climate Action Factory, a semi-autonomous group of climate activists sponsored by Avaaz.org.
To keep the momentum going, earlier today, on the Capitol lawn in DC, the Yes Men were planning on holding a rally “to kick off the 350.org Day of Climate Action by showcasing a fleet of SurvivaBalls, an alternate solution to climate change that protects America’s most valuable citizens from the ravages of climate change.” No word yet on how that went.
What’s amazing is that Bichlbaum said during his Democracy Now! interview today that they were able to pull off this stunt for only $500 (the cost of renting the room). Considering how much media coverage their actions tend to generate, these types of pranks should really be attempted more often by activists of all stripes.
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