877 JOE-4-OILAmong the holiday sales and Christmas specials being advertised on television these days is a new sign of the season hitting the airwaves: CITGO’s Low Cost Heating Oil program. The commercials feature spokesman Joe Kennedy flashing his family’s famous million-dollar smile all over the screen as he tells the stories of the program's needy recipients. Kennedy started a non-profit organization 28 years ago to help families meet the high cost of heating oil. The program has drawn much criticism in recent years since the oil is donated at a 40% discount from Venezuelan owned CITGO. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as you know, is a controversial figure (and one of the Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People of 2007!) He is known for his extreme socialist views and admiration of Fidel Castro, his stronghold on state industries and for quite famously referring to George Bush as "the devil" in a UN address last year.
Many believe the motivation behind Venezuela’s generosity is to make the United States look bad for not being able to take care of its "invisible poor" as Kennedy refers to them in the ads and to portray Chavez as a "good guy". In defense of these accusations Kennedy stated in an interview last year that in the 27 years he has been heading the program not a single OPEC nation or US Oil Company has ever offered heating oil at any discount whatsoever, let alone at 40%, despite his repeated requests. Whatever the motivation, the recipients of the much needed heating oil don’t seem to care.
Needy individuals and familes can call 877-JOE-4-OIL for more information. Click here to see one of the CITGO Joe-4-Oil commercials that aired last year.