Billmon writes,

It’s a little disconcerting to think that gas prices — not Iraq, not Katrina, not the extra-constitutional power grabs — could decide whether Shrub’s presidency recovers or collapses into complete irrelevancy for the next three years. But the good Dr. Pollkatz has already plotted the relationship, and it’s statistically suggestive, to say the least.

It’s especially disconcerting when you consider that in 2000 the Bush campaign criticized the Clinton-Gore administration for its inability to lower gas prices.

Mr. Bush was critical of Al Gore in the 2000 campaign for being part of “the administration that’s been in charge” while the “price of gasoline has gone steadily upward.” In December 1999, in the first Republican primary debate, Mr. Bush said President Clinton “must jawbone OPEC members to lower prices.”

Katharine Q. Seelye wrote in the June 22, 2000 New York Times — “Price of Gasoline Emerges as Issue in Bush-Gore Race” —

Mr. Bush and Republicans on Capitol Hill blame the gas-price increase on the Clinton administration, saying the administration has had no coherent domestic energy policy and, in imposing regulations to meet clean air standards, had allowed prices to drift as high as $2.39 a gallon in the Midwest. Mr. Bush also said the administration had failed to persuade the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to ”open the spigots” to increase the supply.

After an announcement that the Federal Trade Commission would be investigating possible price gouging, Vice President Gore’s campaign made a point of connecting Governor Bush to Big Oil.

Senator Harkin, speaking on behalf of the Gore campaign on a conference call with reporters, accused the oil companies of ”outright thievery.” He went on to castigate Mr. Bush for his ”silence” on the matter, saying, ”What can you expect of someone who once claimed, and I quote, ‘There’s no such thing as being too closely aligned to the oil business in West Texas’?”

The quotation from Mr. Bush was made in a 1978 Congressional campaign. Acknowledging that the quotation was more than 20 years old, Mr. Harkin said: ”The point is, the test of character and leadership is when you’re willing to take on your friends when it’s in the nation’s best interest.”

Mr. Bush signed an emergency tax bill in 1999 that gave state tax breaks to oil and gas companies. The Dallas Morning News reported that the bill saved Richard Rainwater, a former Bush business partner, $1 million. At least 14 of Mr. Bush’s ”Pioneers,” his largest financial contributors, have ties to the oil industry.

Mr. Bush’s campaign has received $1.5 million from energy interests as of April 30, while Mr. Gore had received less than $125,000 as of the same date.

It seems some voters made the connection but believed Bush’s connections to Big Oil would help him pull prices down. From a blogger’s election 2000 notes

I got a big piece of this analysis from thinking about a comment from an AR relative, who said she voted for Bush because she thought that Bush would keep gas prices lower, and that mattered a lot. This was counterintuitive to me: the US oil industry (Bush’s home turf) lives and dies on gas prices, and the higher the better. One could even argue that Bush pere conspired with the Saudis to keep Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq in order to keep Iraq’s oil off the market, to keep Iraq from depressing the market.

If it’s Tuesday, it’s time for new record low Bush approval ratings. Georgia10 writes,

So President Bush woke up today and suddenly gave a damn about gas prices. Mr. 32% spent this morning calling for a investigation into possible cheating, price gouging or illegal manipulation in the gasoline markets. He also will asked the EPA to ease clean air restrictions, and he temporarily stopped deposits into the strategic petroleum reserve, a move that will have only a “negligible” impact on gas prices. The media are lapping it up, but they refuse to mention that Bush is forced to face the consequences of his own failed energy policy.

Taylor Marsh:

This is the most preposterous story I’ve read recently. Bush is going after his own people, the ones who helped get him elected. He’s going after the very men and companies that have led to this situation. First, Bush allows private meetings with oil companies and others, including people representing nuclear, so they can help craft our energy policy. Republicans give subsidies to companies that don’t need it. All the while President Bush doesn’t do a thing to help mitigate our independence, believing only ANWAR is the answer. If it isn’t drilling it doesn’t have a place in Bush’s world. We’ve also got Frist and Hastert planning to look into the oil companies. There’s only one reason they’re doing this and it’s because there’s an election. They’re trying to save themselves. The don’t want solutions or they would have been working on one long before now. Bush has been in office for years. What, he’s now just discovering we have an energy problem? This is a charade.

Besides, if Bush wants to know if price gouging is going on why doesn’t he just pick up the phone? Republicans know these guys, the oil men. They are one of their own. Don’t go through this political dance. Just go to the men who brought you to Washington and ask them. It’s not like they wouldn’t take Bush’s call.

I ‘spect it’s the same reason he didn’t try real hard to look into the Valerie Plame leak — he doesn’t really want to know.

Back to Georgia10:

Where has the President been for the last three years or so, as we’ve seen gas prices skyrocket? First, he promised the Iraq War would lower gas prices. As his senior economic adviser stated in 2002:

    “The key issue is oil, and a regime change in Iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil,” which would drive down oil prices, giving the U.S. economy an added boost.

It turns out that the Iraq War didn’t increase world oil, only oil profits. So, then, President Bush promised that his energy policy (which included massive tax breaks for the oil industry) would help our energy crisis. Well, it did not help, but that result is to be expected when our nation’s energy policy is drafted by the oil industry.

So where has the President been? Obviously, his administration does not shoulder all of the blame for high gas prices. But his deliberate absence and incompetence on this issue have only made the situation worse.

Now that the issue finally has his attention, he realized this would be a great time to suspend environmental rules for oil refiners. Typical. And he’s making more noise about our “addiction to oil,” although I haven’t noticed he’s come up with any concrete program to ween us of our addiction.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has proposed that federal gas taxes be eliminated for 60 days. This would reduce the price of gas by more than 18 cents a gallon. Democrats propose cutting six billion dollars in tax breaks to oil firms to make up the lost revenue. Currently, the money from the federal gas tax goes to the Highway Trust fund.

Of course, what we really need to do is get serious about alternate energy sources and put more money into mass transit — the sort of thing Al Gore was talking about many years ago. But you know how it is — conservation and solar energy are for sissies. Real men drill.

26 thoughts on “Gassed

  1. The chart showing the correlation between gasoline prices and Bush’s popularity is striking, but I wonder whether, in fact, gas prices have been tracking insecurity in the oil market brought on by developments in Iraq and now Iran. In other words, it might not be gas prices driving Bush’s poll numbers, but rather missteps in our Middle-Eastern diplomatic policy that are driving both gas prices and the poll numbers.

  2. My bet for the October surprise: Saudi Arabia announces it will increase production and price per barrel drops $20 with immediate drop in pump prices.

    Of course, coupla months later we’ll be back where we were in September and people will be bitching again, but the Greedy Oligarchs and Plutocrats will still be running the show.

  3. wake me when it’s over –

    Exactly. Your last sentence says a lot.

    Brzezinski’s article today (on Ed’s post Deeve’s post) brings out something I had not heard discussed on the media:

    “3. Oil prices would climb steeply, especially if the Iranians cut their production and seek to disrupt the flow of oil from the nearby Saudi oil fields. The world economy would be severely impacted, with America blamed for it. Note that oil prices have already shot above $70 per barrel, in part because of fears of a U.S./Iran clash.”

    Just a minute ago, as chance would have it, CNN announced the news that China, Iran and Russia are banding together to have more clout against US interests in this regard.

  4. Sorry Ed! I meant, “Ed Deevy’s post.” (I think I was distracted by spelling Brzezinski)

  5. I wonder how far the oil industry tax breaks [redirected to weaning us off of foreign oil] would go in helping America fund wind and solar power installations.

    Just the 6 billion, a fraction of the total oil industry tax breaks, would allow us to erect more than 8,000 top of the line wind generators.

    Oh, I forgot…..first we’d have to make the oil industry cede its monopoly and insider status and obscene profits just at a time when it has us literally over a barrel [scarcity or the threat of it is like that]……then, we’d still have to reach a dire crisis in order to get the right-wing motivated to think of the future. [they have been trained away from reason and only respond to panic buttons],…. then behind the scenes dealing would have to be ironed out so that Republicans could ear-mark funds for only those ‘alternative energy folks’ who’ll return the favor with friendly campaign contributions……then, by gosh, somebody would need to deal with the very big problem of our pyramidal scheme economy in which an horrified wall street would fight tooth and nail against renewable resources because renewables [wind and sun], by definition, deny those very delectable scarcities that allows those with money to make more and more money.

  6. What, you need the government to help you conserve gas???

    1) Drive slower
    2) car-pool
    3) Get out of that SUV/Truck and into a smaller car
    4) switch to 4-10 hour days (20% savings for 5 day commutes)
    5) make sure you drive your car efficiently

    You are a retard if you haven’t been able to figure out how to do this by now…

  7. OK, maybe I am a little too sensitive, but I really resent Bush’s use of the word addiction to describe our dependance on oil.Somehow I feel he’s casting a moral judgement of gluttony and lack of self restraint in a situation where control is not within our power. We are an industrialized nation and oil is the lifeblood of industry. I think Bush is trying to shift the failure of a sound energy policy onto the American public.

    I heard some of Bush’s drivel on the radio today about ethanol as an alternative fuel…sounds great except it is an established fact that ethanol can’t be produced at a lower cost than the current cost of gasoline. Americans are howling about the price of gasoline and not it’s availibility and availibilty isn’t the cause of the current high prices. Bush is just tickling ears with future hopes rather than deal honestly with the present.

  8. Keith,
    Uh, to whom are you referring? In our family of four adults, we have one car and we all take the bus whenever possible, which in our state is not easy. We follow Jimmy Carter’s wishes whenever our doing so would not case apoplexy with other drivers on the road.
    But if you wouldn’t mind, pray tell, let us know how this will help us in the long run?

  9. You are a retard if you haven’t been able to figure out how to do this by now…

    I have a 9-year-old car (I’m the first and only owner) with less than 50,000 miles on it, so I guess I’ve figured out something. But one reason the mileage is so low is that I live in liberal New York where there is a good mass transit system. And, frankly, we’re going to have to find an alternative to oil someday, no matter how careful we are.

  10. Pingback: A Blog For All

  11. I have a camero convertible(same car since 93,,55k)that I stopped driving after 911…now I nearly couldn’t afford the gas if I wanted to drive it…I depend on mass transit(which sucks in Iowa),or my better half drives me in a car that gets better mileage then my v-8 gas sucker..or a harley when Iowa weather allows..

    After 911 I decided to stop all driving I could avoid because frankly I am sick of giving saudi princes my money while they send us 15 of the 19 hi jackers..bush can hold hands(or whatever else the princes make him hold)with those bastards…but I can choose not to any more then I have to…work ,store,, just what I have to have to survive….

    I used to log thousands of miles a summer on my bike,, but no more..despite how much I love it..Screw those big oil jerks!I won’t fund their insanity….

    Now someone has to tell me what gas costs.I was shocked as i sat at a gas pump on sun for the first time in ages and the lady beside the car I was in was nearly in tears telling the man next to her it cost her 30.00 to fill her car for a week,(she was driving a neon)..she said , as she filled her car, if it got any higher she would have to cut back on eating or take her kids out of daycare…it cost her 36.00 to fill her tiny car..she already did the best she could to get a car her budget could afford,, now whats she suppose to do?

    I know America won’t learn her lesson(because she rarely does) but thats what we get for thinking(as so many did) that we would have cheap oil by installing an “oilman”(can you be considered an oilman if you go bankrupt looking for oil in Texas?) in the whitehouse,,Now all are paying for the greed and foolishness of some…… How long left?? 32 months?? ugh

  12. Well, I read A Blog for All‘s post, but it certainly wasn’t a post for me. As for the other one he referenced, “The Moderate Voice,” I’d have to say that was one of the more ridiculous ones I’ve ever read. The Blog for Them does mention you, though Maha, and I think you were just a little too subtle for him perhaps?

  13. Keith is right – but posting his message on this site is like preaching to the choir.

    Then again, about a month ago, my local paper published a letter to the editor from a man who wrote that this whole oil thing is a liberal conspiracy, is proud to drive his SUV and would continue to buy them in the future. I thought he was quite brave – if not stupid – to write this letter, considering that statements like his generally don’t go over well here in my state of Massachusetts.

    So Keith, you never know who might need to hear your message.
    But you are naive if you think that your solutions are enough. Apparently some people do need the government to help them conserve – just not this one!

  14. The Blog for Them does mention you, though Maha, and I think you were just a little too subtle for him perhaps?

    For some reason this post was linked on Pajamas Media, even though I didn’t authorize that. Maybe Mr. All thinks that if it’s on Pajamas Media it must be orthodox.

  15. Never meant to imply that the solutions I presented, either weren’t being done by some here, or that it is a cure all. If the shoe doesn’t fit ya, I wasn’t talking about ya…

    Personaly, I went from driving an 03 Dakota to an 05 Neon last year because I commute 49 miles one way. Also a co-worker and I have been car pooling for about 6 months now (since Katrina.)

    Trying to pin this on the current administration is disengenous, at best. This is yet another problem we’ve been avoiding for the past 4 decades. Just like terrorism, just like the Israeli-Palestine issue, just like health care, just like Social Security.

    As long as the pain to ourselves is bearable, we ignore the issue.

    That is what every administration and Congress has done, especially since 1980. And because George Bush has caught the hot potatoe, he’s the one everyone wants to blame.

    But, the buck has been passed so much that we don’t want to admit that we are all collectively responsible for some part of the problem.

    We certainly need a National Energy Policy. Why is that stuck in Congress? Because liberals want to know who was in the private meetings. Who cares? What is important is that a document was produced, and that can be added to and subtracted from. But that would take real work, and a committment to compromise.

    We need a multi-part plan that deals with SUPPLY, DEMAND, and ALTERNATIVES.

    1 – SUPPLY – We must first increase our supply, so that energy is cheap, otherwise the economy suffers. Especially we must increase our domestic supply, so that we can stop relying so much on foreign oil. That means encouraging oil exploration, oil production, and oil refining. That means exploring in ANWR, the Gulf and off California. If we don’t do all these things, oil and gas prices are going to increase. Global demand is going up, whether we do anything or not.

    2 – DEMAND – We must lower our demand, so that we do not need as much supply. Conservation is one way. Increasing the CAFE standards will help. Giving tax breaks to companies for flex-scheduling their workers (ie 4-10 hour days,) or tele-commuting. Giving a 1/2 hour work credit to car-pollers. Putting speed limiters on non-emergency government vehicles (I’m getting tired of gov plated vehicles passing me when I’m doing the speed limit.) There are a number of smart things goverments and companies can do to encourage conservation.

    3 – ALTERNATIVES – Ethanol is one answer. Mass produced Bio-Diesel is another. Electric vehicles. More nuclear power. Mass transit. Smarter mass transit. for instance.

    But trying to play the BLAME GAME, is not solving the problem. Solving the problem takes real work, and needs more than 10 second sound bites to get yourself elected.

  16. Heh… just found this over on

    thought it would add to the discussion.

    n the lab, many gasoline alternatives look good. Out on the road, automotive engineers have a lot of work to do, and energy companies have new infrastructure to build, before very many people can drive off into a petroleum-free future. And, there’s the issue of money. Too often, discussions of alternative energy take place in an alternative universe where prices do not matter.

    For this special report, PM crunched the numbers on the actual costs and performance of each major alternative fuel. Before we can debate national energy policy–or even decide which petroleum substitutes might make sense for our personal vehicles–we need to know how these things stack up in the real world.

  17. Trying to pin this on the current administration is disengenous, at best.

    I don’t believe anyone here blames Bush for the oil crisis. What we’re saying is that the Bush Administration has been brushing aside all suggestions for fixing the oil crisis (but drilling) until right now.

    This is what’s called a “flip flop.” I’m planning a post on this later today.

    This is yet another problem we’ve been avoiding for the past 4 decades. Just like terrorism, just like the Israeli-Palestine issue, just like health care, just like Social Security.

    Who you callin’ “we,” Kemo? We liberals have been advocating alternative fuel and conservation and other alternatives to foreign oil for four decades. I clearly remember ca. 1970 handing out fliers advocating development of alternative energy sources.

    It’s been righties standing in the way, just like it’s been righties standing in the way of any meaningful overhaul of the health care system (which has been a favored liberal issue since TRUMAN, for pity’s sake) and righties standing in the way of proposed anti-terrorism measures (e.g., better airport security; better ways to trace money going to terrorist groups) in the 1990s. Democratic presidents Carter and Clinton worked their butts off on the Israeli-Palestine issue, but when Bush II came into office his official policy for the first year or so was to ignore it.

    And the Bush “reform” of Social Security is no reform at all, but a plan to turn the system into something that’s neither social nor secure. Republicans don’t want to reform it; they want to destroy it.

    As long as the pain to ourselves is bearable, we ignore the issue.

    As long as the pain to CONSERVATIVES is bearable, the issue gets ignored, you mean.

    That is what every administration and Congress has done, especially since 1980. And because George Bush has caught the hot potatoe, he’s the one everyone wants to blame.

    Ah, I see you’re from the Dan Quayle school of spelling. 🙂 Again, nobody blames him that there’s a finite amount of oil on the planet and we’re using it up and we’ve grown over-dependent on foreign oil. We’re blaming him for standing in the way of solutions until gas prices lit a fire under his butt.

    But, the buck has been passed so much that we don’t want to admit that we are all collectively responsible for some part of the problem.

    CONSERVATIVES don’t want to admit that we are all collectively responsible, you mean. Most liberals realize it, even though we drive cars, too. We actually discuss our guilt over fuel consumption at dinner parties. I have witnessed this many times.

    We certainly need a National Energy Policy. Why is that stuck in Congress? Because liberals want to know who was in the private meetings. Who cares?

    Well, some of us do find it annoying that the oil industry got to buy policies that helped them make a bigger profit. And that’s a big reason why reforms don’t happen — Big Oil was a major Bush campaign contributor, so the Bushies let the oil execs write our energy policy as a quid pro quo. Environmentalists and alternative-energy advocates were literally shut out of the process. This sort of thing needs to stop.

    What is important is that a document was produced, and that can be added to and subtracted from. But that would take real work, and a committment to compromise.

    COMPROMISE????? Oh, that’s TOO RICH; a rightie telling a LIBERAL we have to COMPROMISE!

    Next we’ll hear from the Klan that we need to be more TOLERANT!

    Now, I find it charming that you’ve discovered all these wonderful ideas for reducing oil dependency, most of which we liberals have been advocating for FORTY BLEEPING YEARS AT LEAST and being told by righties that we’re “loony” the whole time. But I tell you honestly I am not terribly interested in having a “discussion” about this stuff with you. It’s a bit like someone who’s watched a Julia Child re-run going to France to teach people to cook.

    If you want to hang out and ask questions, fine, but if you start to lecture us you’re going to be banned for getting on my nerves.

  18. There are some interesting ideas here and even (gasp) a few facts.

    However nothing constructive is going to be accomplished until liberals and conservatives stop pointing their fingers at each other and crying foul. It’s going to take all of us SCREAMING at Congress to get them off their collective butts and do something. Their primary motivation is to continue to have a job which requires little actual work while maintaining a healthy image of appearing to do work. (I consider everything proposed by both bush and the dems to be eyewash rather than real solutions – 12 million barrels is not even what is consumed in one day – what happens after the 60 day tax break is up?)

  19. I don’t even own a car, so ha! I win at oil conservation!

    Anyway, I also read this morning that Bush wants to take one of the dumber pages from the Gore Environmental Playbook and tap into the strategic petroleum reserve to lower prices. (The article I read pointed out that Bush criticized Gore for such a proposal during the 2000 campaign.) I saw someone on one of the Sunday talk shows saying that tapping the SPR won’t do a damn thing to lower prices, because supply is not the issue. What’s driving prices up is a problem with distribution. And probably also price gauging.

    And this is an issue because it affects people directly. For most Americans, constitutional issues and a war on another continent are remote and intangible, but they’re reminded of the rising gas prices every time they have to refill their gas tank.

  20. I consider everything proposed by both bush and the dems to be eyewash rather than real solutions.

    I agree. The crop of Dems currently in Washington have mostly been bought by big corporations and other special interests, just like Republicans. I don’t expect much from them.

    However, it is a fact that liberals and progressives have been speaking out on the issue of oil dependence for many years, and righties have just made fun of us and said there’s plenty of oil, what’s your problem? After putting up with their crap lo these many years I’m not about to let some right-wing airhead get on MY blog and tell Me that “we” have been ignoring this issue for four decades.

    Solutions? There are lots of solutions. They’ve been around for decades. We haven’t been able to get the powers that be to take the problem seriously, so little has been done. And conservatives are primarily to blame; they have been not just obstructionist but hostile to fuel-saving and alternative energy measures since at least the 1960s. I go on about this more in the next post.

    And yes, we DO need government to go to work on this problem. But we needed them to go to work on it several bleeping years ago.

  21. Just as it is hard to hear Bush speak about Iran without remembering his lies about Iraq, it is hard for me to hear about the oil crunch without thinking of Enron’s manipulation of the California energy situation. Especially when I read #15 post by Keith,Indy in which ‘solutions’ are now made clear: ANWR drilling, lifting environmental checks on refineries, and so forth.

    Sorry Keith, you have slipped in some unacceptable stuff, hiding it within what could pass as reasonableness, and so I think you may be aligned with the problems we face instead of the solutions we need. Your post makes me wonder whether the public is being ‘crisis’ manipulated by gas prices to give up what we also need and cherish…..clean environments and wild spaces for ourselves and future generations.

  22. Righties seem to be discovering America all of a sudden. Annoying isn’t it? Well, maybe it will finally get us somewhere, as long as they don’t try to do all the steering. They haven’t had the driving experience yet. For instance, I don’t want them driving us up to Alaska because of any short-term “solutions.” If we’re really that “desperate,” then why hadn’t we done something about this before?

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