AT HIS VICE PRESIDENTIAL CONFIRMATION HEARINGS, Nelson A. Rockefeller was as solemn and serious as P. T. Barnum swearing his freak show denizens were the real Mc Coy when he told the assembled persons:
I hope that the myth or misconception about the extent of the family’s control over the economy of this country will be totally brought out and exposed and dissipated …There is not this network of control which is popularly conceived.
The Senators could not have been more polite. Nobody guffawed. The transcript does not indicate that they even tittered. After all, fools seldom get elected to the Senate these days. Nelson and David, as leaders of the Rockefeller Clan, are the nation’s undisputed economic kings. No politician with enough savvy to be elected dog catcher laughs at a king.
Guessing the magnitude of the Rockefeller financial empire has been a favourite indoor sport since the turn of the century. In a front-page story on September 29, 1916, the New York Times reported that family patriarch John D. Rockefeller’s oil holdings alone were worth $500 million, and that he was America’s first billionaire. Eight hours after the story appeared his oil shares had increased in value by a tidy $8 million. Not a bad return for a single day’s labour, even for a Rockefeller.