Oil on Mars?!
I'm actually broadly in favour of human exploration of space, and think that starting with the Moon and then moving fairly rapidly on to Mars is a mostly sensible thing to do - with the caveat that if you're going to do it, you need to face the reality of paying for it, and I'd like the process not to involve the gutting of space science at NASA.
But, this article reads almost like a caricature of why people get sad and cynical about such proposals. At some deep level I don't think much of current individual US government policies are for the purpose of rewarding their buddies, the reward is "just" excessive glad-handing and buddy system done on a nod and wink. But this is just inappropriate.
"As an example of private industry's hunger for a Mars mission, Steve Streich, a veteran Halliburton scientific adviser, was among the authors of an article in Oil & Gas Journal in 2000 titled "Drilling Technology for Mars Research Useful for Oil, Gas Industries." The article called a Mars exploration program "an unprecedented opportunity for both investigating the possibility of life on Mars and for improving our abilities to support oil and gas demands on Earth," because technology developed for the mission could be used on this planet."
Here is the article text, quoted under "fair use", for posterity.
Soon, the far more interesting questions of: Natural Gas on Mars? Oil on Titan?