BISMARCK — Fox News personality Sean Hannity provided a break to sessions on enhanced oil recovery and well spacing Thursday at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference with a scathing attack on liberals and government regulation of the energy industry.
Hannity spoke from the Bismarck Civic Center on the final day of the conference, which brought about 4,500 people to the arena for the Bakken’s biggest event of the year. About 300 people came just for Hannity’s speech, said Tessa Sandstrom, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Petroleum Council, the group behind the conference.
If there was any doubt that a good majority of the industry is made of right-leaning people, it was put to rest with the applause and agreement that met Hannity’s frequent jabs at President Barack Obama and liberals.
“You all working hard? The rest of America wishes they could join you, but apparently they can’t,” he said. “Barack Obama’s our president.”
Hannity spoke little of the industry in general, providing more of a pep rally for the companies present.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, I am very, very honored to be here because what you are doing. Energy, is the lifeblood of America’s economy,” he said to applause. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, and what you have been able to show this country is nothing short of a miracle.”
Hannity admitted being no expert on oil, but said one thing he can talk about is bad government. He commended the industry on the boom, which he said happened “because it’s on private land.”
He brought up what most conservatives cite as liberal failures — Healthcare.gov, Benghazi, Obama’s mispronunciation of “corpsmen” — and tied it back to the oil boom, which he said could invigorate economies elsewhere in the U.S.
“If America would just stop being a stupid country and a stubborn country” where radical environmentalists have a grip on Democrats, he said, “we could literally duplicate the success in North Dakota.”
Hannity first became personally involved in the Bakken through MBI Energy Services, a Belfield-based oilfield services company whose CEO, Jim Arthaud, appeared on Hannity’s radio show in February.
On the segment, titled “Getting America Back to Work,” Arthaud spoke of hundreds of job opportunities at MBI and, drawing a blank on the job application website, gave out a phone number for interested applicants.
The company ended up having to revamp its phone system after being overloaded with thousands of phone calls, with lines jammed for six hours, Arthaud said in introducing Hannity on Thursday.
“Since that time we have got 5,000 people to apply at MBI Energy Services and hired over 300 of them,” Arthaud said, adding 76 percent applied after hearing of the openings on Hannity’s show.
Hannity said at a news conference after the speech that he plans on meeting with some of the people who got jobs in North Dakota after hearing about the opportunities on his show.