This probably deserves two posts because there are two distinct pieces of news here but let me give it a shot.

The first shocker is that the documentary film CRUDE: the Real Price of Oil was a box-office smash in its opening weekend! Who would have guessed that two hours of footage about an environmental lawsuit in Ecuador would win out over All about Steve but times they are a-changin.'

According to today's Amazon Watch press release, the film was the highest grossing film per screen in the U.S.

The film documents the controversial $27 billion lawsuit filed against Chevron by 30,000 Ecuadorean villagers for the environmental degradation that Texaco (now owned by Chevron) perpetrated (according to the claimant knowingly perpetrated) in the Ecuadorean rainforest.

Chevron, the 5th largest corporation in the world, says there is no evidence linking the dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater and abandonment of 900 unlined crude oil pits, with increased outbreaks of cancer and other diseases in communities adjacent to the Texaco operations.

It's a complex story and the film carefully examines both sides. Can't wait for the L.A. premiere next week!

OK now the really crazy part.

Last week Chevron unveiled video footage caught purportedly on spy cameras of an Ecuadorean judge accepting a $3 million bribe. Chevron is now calling for an investigation into the corrupt judicial system that allowed the case against Chevron to move forward.

It turns out the briber was a former Chevron employee seeking to entrap the judge and discredit the case (or to pay the judge for pretending to accept the bribe ... the imagination runs wild)! Amazon Watch, a leading activist organization working on behalf of the Amazonian people, drafted a letter calling out Chevron:

The conduct of Chevron's management and legal teams has raised numerous questions as to Chevron's role in the bribery scheme and may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, exposing Chevron to significant legal liability, of the sort that Chevron recently paid the U.S. Department of Justice $30 million to settle.
So the battle gets uglier. However it turns out, one thing is for sure ... With the success of CRUDE, Chevron has one giant PR nightmare on its hands.

Learn more about the CRUDE the movie.

Chevron accused of counter-espionage scam
CRUDE becomes top grossing weekend film and Chevron releases allegedly falsified 'spy cam' footage of a bribery deal. How much weirder can it get?