The Mouth is a Good Place To Put Your Money
by Jeff Lewis

Millions of Americans awoke glumly on November 3, 2004, bitter and browbeaten, but a stalwart few treated that day as an early New Years, resolving to find ways to temper the Republican victory.  Among those was a blogger on the progressive website daily KOS with the moniker Karma Mechanic, who proposed that the contributors to the website should create a well-publicized list of the most and least progressive American corporations.

A few months later, Karma Mechanic’s idea is starting to bear fruit at Buyblue.org.  The website displays the political contributions of the executive officers of over a hundred major corporations.  Plans are in the works to greatly expand the list, as well as the scope of analysis.  Issues that the site hopes to track include charitable giving, use of child and sweatshop labor, human rights abuses, toxic emissions and animal testing.  They’ve got their work cut out for them.

In its current form, Buyblue gives an interesting, if imperfect, view of companies’ political leanings that either progressives or conservatives can use to inform their shopping habits.  Below, I’ve distilled the contents of the website to a few key categories.  For the complete list, see their Ranked Company Listing page.

The values in parentheses denote the percentage of political contributions made to progressive political parties or PACs in 2003/2004 by each company’s executives.  For example, a 50% rating means that the board members split their political contributions between Democrat and Republican causes or candidates, or that they made no political contributions.  Values reflect Buyblue’s percentages as of February 20, 2005.

Restaurants

For dinner, conscientious conservatives have the entire strip mall at their disposal.  The progressive diner eats high on the hog, but had better have a wad of cash and a reservation.

Blue:  Myriad Restaurant Group (100%) – This includes Nobu, The Tribeca Grill, Montrachet, The Coach House, Lucca and Rubicon.  Investors include Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and Francis Ford Coppola.

Red:  Outback Steakhouse, Inc. (2%), McDonald’s Corp. (4%), Wendy’s International Inc., including Wendy’s, Baja Fresh and Pasta Pomodoro (6%), Darden Restaurants, Inc., including Olive Garden and Red Lobster (9%), Burger King (35%)

The Place to Buy Your Next TiVo (if not from TiVo.com)

Neutral:  Fry’s Electronics, Inc. (50%)

Red:  Best Buy Co., Inc. (0%), Circuit City Stores, Inc. (10%)

Very Large Shopping Carts

Tires, detergent and ham steaks, all under the same label; Democrats like to wipe out Mom & Pop stores too.

Blue:  Costco Wholesale Corporation (99%)

Red:  Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., including Sam’s Club (22%)

Airlines That Aren’t on the Verge of Bankruptcy

Democrats and Republicans each get their own peanut-serving, diminutive-airport-dominating, whimsical-cabin-crew-employing low fare airline.

Blue:  JetBlue Airways Corporation (75%) – The Long Beach Airport is oh so cute.

Red:  Southwest Airlines Co. (18%)

Where to Shop for Tools That Will Languish in Your Garage

Neutral:  True Value Company (50%)

Red:  Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (0%), Home Depot, Inc. (18%)

The Wedding Registry

Rick Sliter once joked that he’d hit the Yuppy Trifecta with his wedding registry:  Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn.  Depending on which stratum of the middle class you occupy, you substitute Williams Sonoma or Target for Pottery Barn.  Buyblue doesn’t have info for Macy’s, Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma yet, but there are plenty of choices below.  Get your scanner hand ready…

Blue:  Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (97%), Crate and Barrel (83%)

Red:  Nordstrom, Inc. (0%), Target Corporation (17%)

Where to Go to Overpay for a Computer

Recommendation to the few conservative Apple users out there:  if you need a cute impractical box and don’t want to support a liberal company, buy a Mini.

Blue:  Apple Computer Inc. (99%) – Mrs. Jobs gave $500 to a Republican in Vermont.

Red:  Dell Inc. (12%), Hewlett-Packard Company (41%)

Love Transcends

Neutral:  Durex, Lifestyles and Trojan are all 50%.

Dotcom Survivors

Gore didn’t do so hot in 2000, but at least he got one thing right—he lent his support to Google.  He seems more like an Ask Jeeves guy, though.

Blue:  Google Inc. (100%), Barnes & Noble, Inc. (100%), Powell’s Books, Inc. (100%), Netflix (72%), eBay (57%)

Red or Neutral:  Earthlink, Inc. (14%), Amazon.com, Inc. (41%), Yahoo! Inc. (47%)

Copyright © 2005 by Jeff Lewis