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Cheap Gas

As Gasoline Hits Record Price, Bush, Kerry And Democrats Spar Over Policy And Next Move

As senators called on the Bush administration on Tuesday to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help curb prices, Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, accused President Bush of neglecting energy conservation and favoring oil companies. The Bush re-election campaign blamed Mr. Kerry for voting against oil drilling in Alaska last year and for his past advocacy of higher gasoline taxes.

"It's clear we need a new energy policy," Mr. Kerry said. He cited a survey released Tuesday by AAA, formerly the American Automobile Association, showing that the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded was $1.738. The group said the price was a record, not taking into account inflation.

I suppose one should expect in a campaign like this that everything that happens becomes a reason to blame the other guy. Still, it's disingenuous of Kerry to cite the AAA study, since inflation-adjusted gas prices (which are what really matter) have held pretty steady (and his statement doesn't seem to recognize that the organization formerly known as the American Automobile Association has KFCed itself).

In his statement Kerry seems to be mostly using the high gas prices as a hook to introduce his overall energy plan, which contrasts favorably with Bush's. That's good if the debate goes there. But the press seems to want to make this out to be just about who can offer lower gas prices. That kind of pandering battle is bad politics and bad for the envrionment. Perhaps I'm just coldhearted because I rarely drive, but I think that high gas prices ought to make us think about whether we should be using so much gas, not about how we can make gas cheaper.


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