Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP

Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP

by Jeff Nesbit


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Poison Tea shines a spotlight on the shadowy Koch brother network and reveals hidden connections between the tobacco industry, the reclusive billionaire brothers, and the Tea Party movement. It’s a major story that for too long has been underreported and poorly understood.”—REP. HENRY WAXMAN, a former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

How did today’s Tea Party movement really come to be? Did it suddenly appear in 2009 as a spontaneous response to Barack Obama and health-care reform? Or was its true purpose and history something far different. Was it in fact a careful, strategic effort by two of the planet’s wealthiest individuals, the tobacco industry, and other corporate interests to remake the government and seize control of one of our two national parties, ultimately gaining both the White House and Congress?

Jeff Nesbit was in the room at the beginning of the unholy alliance between representatives of the world’s largest private oil company and the planet’s largest public tobacco company. There, they planned for a grassroots national political movement—one that would later be known as the Tea Party—that would promote their own corporate interests and political goals.

Drawing from his own experience as well as from troves of recently released internal tobacco industry documents, Nesbit reveals the long game that these corporate giants have played to become a dominant force in American politics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250076106
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

JEFF NESBIT was the director of public affairs for two federal science agencies. He was once profiled in The Wall Street as one of the seven people who ended the Tobacco Wars. Nesbit was a journalist, communications director for Vice President Quayle, and manager of a strategic-communications business for nearly fifteen years. Now the executive director of Climate Nexus, he writes a weekly science blog for U.S. News & World Report. He lives in New York.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Tea Party Movement—Sudden Appearance or Calculated Move?

1 An Unholy Alliance

2 The Playbook

3 A Critical Bridge: Ron Paul and the “Patriot” Movement

4 Smedley Butler, a Fascist Coup, and the American Liberty League

5 What Drives Charles Koch?

6 The Man Behind the Curtain

7 Why David Koch Never Loses

8 Tobacco Documents Trail


10 Enough is Enough

11 Allied Forces


13 Get Government Off Our Back

14 The Tobacco Strategy

15 A Road Map for Antigovernment Anger

16 Mobilization Universe

17 The Quarterback

18 Seamless Transition

19 Sleight of Hand

20 Five Pillars

21 The Sam Adams Alliance

22 Propaganda “Dressed Up as Journalism”

23 Capturing the States

24 Structure of Social Change

25 A Blueprint Years in the Making

26 Winning


Appendix 1: Acronyms

Appendix 2: Koch Industries Connections

Appendix 3: Key Events


Annotated Bibliography

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