As news of the Yes Men's prank on the Chamber of Commerce spread this morning, I phoned the contact listed on their phony press release announcing the Chamber's change of heart about climate change. I left a message for supposed Chamber flack Erica Avidus, and a couple of hours later I received a call from Andy Bichlbaum, one half of the Yes Men (he's the one on the right). "Are you Erica?" I asked him. "I guess so," he said, sounding a little giddy. He'd been watching some "hilarious" cable clips from his fake press conference and was basking in the absurdist glory. Speaking as himself, he talked more about the Yes Men's latest feat and why it took a sham Chamber of Commerce to reveal that the real Chamber's climate policy is "a big hoax on the American public." Bichlbaum, who's gone by aliases such as Jude Finnisterra and Hank Hardy Unruh, also did some linguistic analysis of the real Chamber spokesman's name, concluding that he, too, is just another fake.
MJ: How long have you been planning this? When did the Chamber of Commerce show up on your radar screen as a potential target?
AB: They showed up as soon as these defections started happening. We planned this about a week and a half ago. The Chamber's absurd stance is really what inspired us, of course. The US is the one thing that's holding up the talks in Copenhagen and we have to send Obama to Copenhagen with a climate bill; even though the Kerry-Boxer one isn't great, it's something. And the chamber is opposing climate change legislation and the whole rest of the world is saying we need to do something. Even a lot of big companies are saying we need to do something. The chamber, representing the biggest and stodgiest and most powerful corporations in America is just saying, "Nah, let's let the whole planet go to rot." We just wanted to show what it would look like if they didn't take that absurd stance. And none of the reporters in the room were really surprised.
MJ: The press conference was interrupted by the Chamber's spokesman, Eric Wohlschlegel.
AB: Well, he claims to be.