Wednesday, October 04, 2006

COLUMN -- Imagining the backlash from Big Oil

Posted by Craig Westover | 6:12 AM |  

Note: This column appeared briefly as a post, which I pulled so I could make it paying copy. The original is now posted here, interesting only for the differences editing (self-imposed and MSM) makes.

Wednesday, Oct 4, 2006

A Gallup poll released last week found that 42 percent of Americans believe President Bush is manipulating gas prices before the November elections. If the poll is accurate, I wouldn't be surprised to see a news report that goes a little bit like this:

Big Oil criticizes
Bush administration's
mishandling of gasoline prices

"Bush lied and prices slide," oil exec says

MINNEAPOLIS — Attired in Armani and chomping on contraband Cuban cigars, representatives of Big Oil demonstrated their solidarity in front of the pumps at a Minneapolis "Stop 'n Rob" convenience store and railed against the Bush administration's failure to maintain gas prices at record levels.

"Less than two months ago, with gas prices busting the $3-per-gallon barrier, the president landed his helicopter on an Exxon oil exploration platform and declared 'mission accomplished,' " said Big Oil spokesman Sol Recker. "Not.

"Bush promised us, in return for campaign contributions, that he'd maintain high gasoline prices by creating weather of mass destruction," an angry Recker said. "Well, we authorized the contributions, but now there's no WMD. Bush lied, and prices slide."

Recker's contention that the Bush administration, which can't seem to balance the federal budget, is manipulating prices on the world oil market received support from Glencoe farmer Hans Anderson. According to Anderson, the conjecture by double-talking economists citing the end of the summer travel season, lack of hurricanes, easing of tensions between the United States and Iran, and a sell-off of oil futures by speculators is just a smoke screen.

"It's as plain as the fact that George Bush orchestrated the 9/11 attacks that he's manipulating gas prices in order to elect Republicans," Anderson said from behind a large Wellstone! sign he had propped against the stroller of his sleeping 17-month-old granddaughter. Anderson said the obvious compromise is adding higher quantities of more expensive ethanol blends to gasoline, which would drive up the price at the pump for consumers but put more money in the pockets of farmers.

"Ya, sure. You betcha," Anderson said when asked if that proposal sounded fair.

Dodging a black, sputtering and coughing SUV with a faded "Support E85" bumper sticker pulling up to the pumps, Robert Enron II, representing Citizens for Higher Everyday Energy Prices (CHEEP), said even if Bush didn't lie about weather of mass destruction, "he certainly did not have an adequate plan for maintaining high pump prices."

"The shock and awe of hurricanes Katrina and Rita was brilliant strategy on Bush's part, but maybe it was too successful," Enron II said. "Bush obviously had no plan to counter the resiliency of insurgent market forces that are driving the price of gasoline down. We're losing the War on Free Markets. Without further government intervention, we'll be stuck in a quagmire of falling gas prices for the foreseeable future."

"People underestimate how fast government can raise the price of gasoline at the pump," countered Decimile Point, second assistant undersecretary of price manipulation at the U.S. Department of Energy. "We have to stay the course. With a Republican majority in Congress, we can still get gas prices up well over the $2.85 price point, maybe even over $3, in time for the holiday travel season."

In a related development, angry demonstrators gathered outside a Wal-Mart store. protesting the mega-chain's reduction of the prices of some generic drugs to $4 a prescription, calling the lower prices "a gimmick intended to generate more business and goodwill for the company."