The Republican Party has decided that the way to win over disenchanted voters this campaign season is to stir up anger on gasoline prices. The GOP answer: Drill like hell on the outer continental shelf and in the wild reserve of Alaska.
Sen. John McCain and President Bush are pinning the blame for those running numbers we see on gas pumps on Democrats in Congress. It is a charade.
Almost in a postscript whisper, the Republicans admit it will be years before new drilling would bring any relief. (Even by conservative estimates, it could be nearly 10 years.)
But never mind. Since the GOP is wallowing in low poll numbers, scandals in the Senate, and a lame-duck president who seems to be reeling in inconsistency, the gasoline issue is the No. 1 public enemy.
In truth, the failure to reach a comprehensive energy policy in the United States belongs to both parties. It has been a part of the unwillingness to reach some sort of reasonable compromise between the drillers and the environmentalists.
Even T. Boone Pickens, the legendary megamillionaire oilman from West Texas and a right-wing Republican to the core, has had an epiphany. In case you've missed it, Pickens has paid for an expensive ad campaign to promote wind as a alternative. He admits that drilling is not the total answer to our growing problem of reliance on costly oil imports, including from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Pickens was one of the sponsors of the Swift Boat smear against John Kerry's Vietnam War record in 2004. The voters swallowed it for a ticket headed by a safe Air National Guardsman (Bush) and a five-time deferment student who escaped the war (Cheney). Maybe Pickens is trying to atone a little for that cruel tactic.
For their part, Democrats in Congress say there is ample acreage available for drilling already and have issued a renewed appeal for a release of oil in the strategic reserve supply. Alternate sources like wind, sun, and geothermal are other avenues.
When you drive up to the gas pump today, Republicans want you to take out your anger on those whirling numbers by remembering to vote their way in November. They should remember the picture of a startled President Bush when he was told at a news conference that gas could reach $4 a gallon or more.
Yet, an out-of-touch president and his would-be successor want you to believe it is all the fault of Sen. Barack Obama and the Democrats. What a sad commentary on leadership!