Joanna Ossinger reports on the latest prank by those corporate goads, the Yes Men:

The Yes Men have done it again.

The anticorporate activists crashed the keynote luncheon Thursday at Canada’s “largest oil and gas event” – the Gas & Oil Exposition 2007 in Calgary. According to the expo’s Web site , the luncheon’s speaker was a “Special Advisor” to the “National Petroleum Council,” an advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Energy currently chaired by former Exxon Mobil CEO Lee Raymond.

Luncheon attendees showed up expecting a major announcement detailing the long-awaited results of an NPC study. What they got instead were the Yes Men, pretending to be representatives of the NPC and Exxon Mobil. The Yes Men’s Andy Bichlbaum says he and Mike Bonnano started out telling attendees about a World Health Organization study that estimates climate change is responsible for about 150,000 deaths a year. The good news, they told the luncheon, tongues in cheek, was that “that sort of loss to the biome could be turned into a net asset.”

A Yes Man with the offending candles (Yes Men)

The Yes Men said the flesh of those human casualties could be turned into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. “With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum,” Bonnano told the conference. “Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left.”

By this point in the presentation, the audience still didn’t seem to realize it was being had. “It remained abstract,” Bichlbaum says. But then the Yes Men passed around a visual aid, and the jig was soon up. “The point at which we got interrupted was about five minutes after we had passed out these candles that were supposedly made from human flesh, to demonstrate their fuel capacity.” The candles had hair sticking out of them and, when burned, started to stink.

A conference organizer stopped the presentation, the Yes Men were escorted out, and the police were called. Bichlbaum and Bonnano were not charged with any wrongdoing. “It was a really funny scene — the [organizers] were extremely uptight about it,” Bichlbaum says. “They had 20,000 people there, they had really touted this event, and done a lot to get the media there.”

Calgary police confirm the Yes Men were escorted from the expo by security.

The Yes Men say they targeted Exxon Mobil and the Canadian oil and gas industry because “they’re just pouring immense amounts of research into oil sands,” Bichlbaum says, a process environmentalists argue is contributing to global warming. “Scientists are telling us that this sort of thing is going to destroy our civilization. Why don’t we have the political will to make that kind of investment into technologies that will actually save us? They’re pouring research money into something that’s going to make this worse.”

Bichlbaum says the expo organizers have not contacted him since the prank, but he hopes they sue. “It would bring a lot of attention to this issue.”

Exxon Mobil won’t comment. NPC spokeswoman Carla Byrd says, “We didn’t find out much about it until late yesterday, and that’s mostly from what we’ve read. We had no knowledge of it until late last night.”

A public-relations firm representing the expo, dmg world media, also won’t comment. In a press release, it says it “continues to make every attempt to verify the legitimacy and credibility of its speakers and security of its conference venues.”