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Producers admit conservative prankster O’Keefe duped them into Cannes screening

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Conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe will host an exclusive screening of his new film Expose: Hollywood’s War on U.S. Energy.

According to O’Keefe, the film “shows the dark side of Hollywood’s environmental movement. Hollywood is willing to take and conceal money from Middle Eastern oil interests in order to advance their cause of destroying American energy independence.”

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In the film, O’Keefe hired an actor to play “Muhammad,” an oil baron who wishes to fund an anti-fracking movie in order to “help his bottom line.”

“If Washington D.C. continues fracking, America will be energy efficient and then they won’t need our oil anymore,” he tells two producers during a lunch at the troubled Beverly Hills Hotel. The producers — husband and wife team Josh and Rebecca Tickell — are known for their environmental movies, including Fuel, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sundance in 2008.

The other two people at the table are Ed Begley Jr. and Mariel Hemingway. Begley told The Hollywood Reporter that he only agrees with “Muhammad” because he was told to be polite and could barely understand what the man said.

“Josh is a friend, and he said if I showed up at this lunch, he would get money from a backer. He wanted some Hollywood people involved, and I saw the other one was Mariel Hemingway. I basically sat there and didn’t say much. Josh said to just nod and agree, so I guess I did that,” he said.

Hemingway appears to collude with “Ad Executive Steven Sanchton,” who wants assurances that knowledge of where the funding of the anti-fracking film comes from “doesn’t go farther than this table.”

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In recorded telephone calls, both Josh and Rebecca Tickell discuss how “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and agrees to accept the oil baron’s money because “money to us — it’s money, we have no moral issue.”

They acknowledge that “if people think the film is funded by Middle Eastern oil, it will not have that credibility,” then assure the representative of “Muhammad” that the funding will remain secret. “We’re confident that we can keep this zip-locked. You know, tight. Tight. Air-tight forever,” Josh Tickell said at one point. “If we don’t protect who is kind of funding this thing — if we have to disclose that or that becomes a necessary part of it, the whole enterprise will not work.”

In the footage of the lunch, however, the couple is clear that they would not make a film that does not “fall within the parameters of what it is that we’re committing to,” Rebecca Tickell said, “like we wouldn’t make a pro-fracking movie if the oil company showed up and asked us.”

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Josh Tickell denied to The Hollywood Reporter that he had behaved inappropriately. “To be clear, we flat out deny any implication of impropriety,” he said. “Had an offer been made, significant due diligence would have been conducted. The sad part is, O’Keefe casts a bad light on Muslims at large as if they’re a bad group of people.”

The couple also created a response video late Tuesday night, in which they admit to having been “punked” by O’Keefe and his crew. “I’m about to tell you a story of the lengths that some people will go to discourage the transition to green energy,” he says in the video.

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“If it wasn’t so serious it might even be kind of funny.”

Watch a clip from Expose: Hollywood’s War on U.S. Energy below.

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Adam Schiff explains how Trump just crippled US election security with appointment of ‘loyalist’ intel director

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) warned on Wednesday that election security in the United States is in jeopardy due to President Donald Trump's choice for acting director of national intelligence.

CNN's Manu Raju asked Schiff about the appointment of Richard Grenell as the nation's top intelligence coordinator.

"He has little to no relevant experience except for being a Trump loyalist," Schiff noted. "And the level of confidence that we can have that we will get fully informed of threats to our elections has just gone down to practically none."

Grenell, who currently serves as the ambassador to Germany, has come under fire from Democrats for possibly violating federal law after he "failed to inform the department about work he did for foreign entities before joining the Trump administration," according to CBS News.

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How the coronavirus has infected Trump’s presidency — and is spreading throughout the global economy

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Nobody saw this coming. Turns out it may not be Bernie, Mike, Joe, Liz, Pete—or even Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff—who bring down Donald Trump.

While it’s still early, there are indications that the coronavirus is the pandemic that could torpedo, among other things, the booming economy Trump has always taken credit for and assumed would sweep him back into office in 2020.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 2000 points Monday and Tuesday on coronavirus-fueled. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control warned Americans that they should “work with us to prepare for the expectation that this could be bad” and outlined how schools and businesses should prepare if the virus spreads. San Francisco announced a state of emergency Tuesday.

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Here’s how Democrats can make Trump’s race-baiting blow up in his face in the 2020 election

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Writing for The New York Times on Wednesday, columnist Thomas Edsall broke down how President Donald Trump's racist rhetoric galvanizes conservative white voters — and what evidence shows is the best way Democrats can neuter it.

"A forthcoming paper by Desmond King and Rogers M. Smith, political scientists at Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania, 'White Protectionism in America,' makes a strong case that Trump, unlike his Republican predecessors in the White House, has gone far beyond rhetoric and token gestures to substantively address the concerns of his anti-immigrant and socially conservative supporters," wrote Edsall.

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