Yesterday oil companies released their third quarter profits, and they were large. ExxonMobil earned a net income of $9.92 billion, which is the most any U.S. company has earned in a three-month period… ever. Royal Dutch Shell raked in a little over $9 billion itself, while BP earned $6.5 billion, ConocoPhillips $3.8 billion and ChevronTexaco $3.9 billion. Any hardships caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were offset by the record high price of crude oil, hitting $70/barrel at one point in the third quarter. USA Today reports that while consumer backlash is expected for such high profits during a time when most motorists are being pinched at the pump, the oil companies are stressing that their industry is cyclical and it wasn't that long ago in 2001 when the combined quarterly profits of these companies totaled less than $10 billion. Aww… poor babies.

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