It's bad enough that President Bush is still trying to defend
the Iraq war. But now we've got Republicans trying to defend their energy policies,
if that's what you can call them. When Democrats take their message to a gas
station, actually putting a little theater in the mix, it really makes the Oil
Man Party look lame. After all, Bush and Deadeye invited energy execs and the
oil man barrons into the White House to help craft energy policy, while the
Republicans in Congress backed the boss. It's not
working out so well right now.
But get a load of this scene after the photo op. It's hilarious
and plays out perfectly. Everyone wants cheaper gas and a better environment. However, few Americans want to change their lifestyle to get either. Then there are the people in Washington who talk a good game, but… Hey, Mr. and Ms. Politician, what-chu-drivin'?
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) made a plea for conservation.
“We have to move quickly to increase our fuel efficiency,” she urged.
But not too quickly. After lunchtime votes, senators emerged
from the Capitol for the drive across the street to their offices.
Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) hopped in a GMC Yukon (14 mpg). Sen. Jim DeMint
(R-S.C.) climbed aboard a Nissan Pathfinder (15). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
stepped into an eight-cylinder Ford Explorer (14). Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
disappeared into a Lincoln Town Car (17). Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) met
up with an idling Chrysler minivan (18).
Next came Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), greeted by a Ford Explorer XLT. On
the Senate floor Tuesday, Menendez had complained that Bush “remains
opposed to higher fuel-efficiency standards.”
Also waiting: three Suburbans, a Nissan Armada V8, two Cadillacs and a Lexus.
The greenest senator was Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who was picked up by his
hybrid Toyota Prius (60 mpg), at quadruple the fuel efficiency of his Indiana
counterpart Evan Bayh (D), who was met by a Dodge Durango V8 (14).
As a political matter, Democrats clearly sense that they have the advantage
on the high gas prices, judging from the number of speeches and news conferences.
“The cost of Republican corruption when it comes to energy is hitting
home very clearly for America's middle class,” House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) exulted yesterday morning.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced an amendment to repeal oil-company
tax breaks and distribute $500 tax rebates to consumers. It was quickly ruled
out of order.
But Republicans were clearly feeling defensive. “We passed an energy
bill last year, last July,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) pleaded
at a morning news conference. “It changes CAFE [corporate average fuel
economy] standards. It changes some of the things that we can do — I'm sorry,
changes not the CAFE standards, but changes some of the supply issues, boutique
fuels, all these things.”