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Lights, Camera, Controversy: The API Commercial Shoot Lights, Camera, Controversy: The API Commercial Shoot

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Lights, Camera, Controversy: The API Commercial Shoot

Of all the ways that Washington interest groups work to undermine each other, this is one of the stranger tales. 

Earlier this month, a lobbying industry watchdog opened his email to find an open casting call for an energy commercial, inviting him to share his opinions on the energy industry. But when he showed up at the studio, instead of being able to sound off on energy, he was forced to stick to a script -- demonstrating, he says, that all those American Petroleum Institute commercials featuring regular citizens are bunk.

API officials dispute the claim and, in a cheeky blog post, argue that the other folks at the shoot were there to support oil and gas. 

Gabe Elsner, the deputy director of the watchdog Checks and Balances Project, said when he arrived on set, he signed the API media release and prepared for the shoot. When it was his turn, he said he was fed the line, "I vote for American jobs." He tried to insert the words "clean energy" before "jobs," but was stopped by the production team and told that the point was to deliver lines from a script. After meeting with a producer, he left the shoot without being able to deliver his message on camera, he said.

"It's one thing to have industries state their positions, but it's a whole 'nother thing to pretend there's all this support from ordinary citizens for their policies and their views," he told the Alley.

But that's not what's going on, according to the API. It says there were dozens of average people who came to the shoot to voice their support for fossil fuel and its importance to jobs and the economy.

"Some activists stopped by an API commercial shoot the other day and -- after a catered breakfast and some hot coffee -- decided that, hey, they don't like oil or natural gas," Mark Green of the API wrote in a blog post yesterday. "So they grandstanded for a few minutes, before deciding not to spend their Saturday hanging around a bunch of other people who do support oil and natural gas."

The ads in question will run starting in January. 

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