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Michael Jordan sounds like someone who would be good at basketball. Abraham Lincoln sounds like someone who would make an excellent president. Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt sounds like someone who would hate his parents.

How about the name T. Boone Pickens?

If T. Boone Pickens sounds to you like someone who would be part of the good-ol’-boy network — well, that’s probably for a reason. He is.

Pickens, an 80-year-old Oklahoma-born businessman, is ranked No. 117 on Forbes Magazine’s 2007 list of the 400 richest Americans. According to the list, his net worth is $3 billion.

A corporate tycoon who built an empire off of oil and investments, Pickens has been as famous for his philanthropy as his business dealings.

His generous donations have aided both Oklahoma State University, which states Pickens has donated “approximately $400 million to OSU through gifts, pledges and waived fees” on their Web site, and the controversial Swift Vets and POWs for Truth organization which helped bring down Sen. John Kerry’s presidential hopes in 2004.

And then comes what Pickens hopes will be his biggest legacy — saving the United States from its dependency on foreign oil. All this from an oil man.

The Pickens Plan, named for its financial backer, states a goal on its Web site of “building new wind generation facilities and better utilizing our natural gas resources can replace more than one-third of our foreign oil imports in 10 years.”

On Pickens’s personal Web site, he states his purpose: “America is in a hole and it’s getting deeper every day. We import 70 percent of our oil at a cost of $700 billion a year — four times the annual cost of the Iraq war. I’ve been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”

Should we believe this man, a wealthy man who has anything he wants, would put on such a major, sudden rebranding from an oil industry juggernaut to an eco-friendly giant of sustainable energy?

It seems a little shady that he’d want to phase out his old industry — the same industry that still helps pay the bills. Either way, it’s a strange reversal on Pickens’s end. This is like Shaq teaching free throws, or Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio hosting a Cinco de Mayo celebration for his task force, or even — sorry for the blasphemy, 10-year-old girl readers — Miley Cyrus being uncool.

There are other skeptics, too. A Newsweek article released Aug. 8 painted a not-so-nice picture, saying, “Forget about drowning polar bears and compact fluorescent light bulbs; Pickens is peddling pure old star-spangled self-interest.”

Yet both presidential candidates have had friendly and apparently productive conversations with Pickens. And how can any attempt at homegrown renewable energy sources be harmful?

Honestly, we don’t know what’s best to think about the Pickens Plan or the Pickens man. We see his ads, we see his plan … but we don’t see his motives.

And, from a good ol’ boy like T. Boone Pickens, that’s one scary thing to be missing.

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