Business: Mad Eddie

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And he's not going to take it

Announcer: Are you mad today, Eddie Chiles?

Eddie Chiles: Yes I'm mad. I'm sad for the Americans who are trying to raise a family and trying to buy a home when the liberals in Washington are spending more and more to destroy the American dream. You get mad, too.

Such anti-Big Government commercials are now playing twice daily on 465 radio stations in 14 Western and Midwestern states. In addition, 210,000 I'M MAD TOO, EDDIE stickers have been put on hard hats and bumpers from Denver to Houston. Texas oil company executives even wear pins carrying the slogan on their lapels. Just about everywhere he goes these days, people ask Fort Worth Oil Millionaire Harrell Edmund (Eddie) Chiles, 70: "Are you mad today, Eddie?"

The answer is invariably yes. After three years of inundating radio air waves with his "What's Wrong with America" sermons, Eddie Chiles is now leading a drive to unseat Fort Worth Congressman and House Majority Leader Jim Wright. "Jim Wright is a socialist," he charges. Replies Wright condescendingly: "I just have to feel sorry for anyone who is always looking for things to be mad about." Chiles accuses Wright and other Washington officials of wild Government spending, runaway regulation and tyrannical bureaucracy.

Chiles is also angry about baseball's high-spending battle to sign free agents. Signing stars like Outfielder Richie Zisk to a ten-year, $2.9 million contract made a perennial money loser of the Texas Rangers, a team that Chiles took over as principal owner last week. To Chiles, his $4 million investment in the team is another example of what he will do to cure the country's ills. Says he: "I bought the club as a general civic duty. We have to improve the quality of life here."

Chiles is a quintessential case of Texas Gothic. He began his broadcast free-enterprise crusade after hearing about Network. Though he never saw the movie, he recognized a kindred spirit in Newscaster Howard Beale and adapted his crazed cry of "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!" The money behind Chiles' mouth ($1 million annually) comes from the Western Co. of North America, an oil well service and offshore drilling firm that he helped found in 1939 and still runs. Chiles, who worked as an oilfield roustabout before earning a degree from the University of Oklahoma in petroleum engineering, pioneered the method of acidizing wells to increase production. In the past five years Western's revenues have nearly tripled, to $275 million. Chiles, whose company holdings are worth $31 million, claims that the anti-Government commercials, which carry a plug for the Western Co. and are tax deductible as a business expense, are great for the firm.

Chiles' critics have recently begun to get mad too. Texas stations carrying Chiles' messages have been accused of violating the Federal Communications Commission's "fairness doctrine," which requires the airing of opposing views. Chiles is also under fire for using the Government when it suits his purpose. For example, he has accepted almost $108 million in federal loan guarantees to build offshore drilling rigs.

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