$90,000 a minute

Behind The News
August 1, 2008 12:58:23 PM PDT
Please don't think me obsessed with money - but today I've been obsessed with money. And one figure in particular. $90,000 a minute.

That's what the world's largest publicly traded oil company made in profits in the second quarter of this year.

$90,000 a minute.

That's the Social Security payment limit on taxable wages.

And let me do the math for you.

Going backwards, that's $1,500 a second.

Forwards, it's $5.4 million an hour, just slightly above the minimum wage.

And nearly $130 million a day.

For Exxon Mobil, it's the best quarterly profit in history.

And in fact, at $11.68 billion, it was the largest quarterly profit for any U.S. corporation. Ever.

But it still wasn't good enough for the oil company's investors, who had expected even greater profits, what with the rising price of oil and gas. They dumped their shares this morning after the profit announcement.

Raise your hand if all this doesn't make sense.

Ok. Give me a few hours to count. I'll get back to you.

I'm not going to begin to make an argument in this most capitalist of countries that profits aren't important. But there seems something just wrong about the largest supplier of oil and gas reaping record profits when so many millions of Americans are able to fill their car tanks only because they're cutting back on filling their stomachs.

Or their college savings accounts for their kids.

Or their (fill in the blank).

The reaction to the record profits came swift and barbed. We'll have reaction tonight at 11, and the latest on the suffering economy, which grew at a less-than-expected 1.9% annual rate between April and June. This, despite the so-called stimulus tax rebate checks that the Bush Administration hoped would give the economy a boost.

They didn't, apparently.

We'll also have the latest on the serial rapist on the loose in Queens. Tonight police have released video of the suspect.

And we're covering the campaign trail as well, especially the announcement that Hillary Clinton will speak at the Democratic Convention next month in Denver on Tuesday night, the second night of the confab.

That has many of her supporters who had hoped she'd be Barak Obama's running mate, feeling a bit down - because it's the clearest sign yet that Obama will not tap her.

And, on another campaign note, you have to wonder how all those young people who were energized by the exciting primary season feel these days about two campaigns that, most experts agree, are dangerously close to lackluster and taking the low road.

Hard to argue with people who worry that the country has major problems that are simply not being debated. Fewer attack ads, more serious debates - that might make a good slogan and watchwords for the campaign.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Marvell Scott (in for Scott Clark) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.