Yesterday, Tom Friedman, had another great op-ed on the failure of the Bush administration and of President Bush himself to lead this country anywhere other than into the hands of the oil industry. The “Addict-in-Chief” seems to think that only domestic drilling will solve our energy problems and ease the pain at the pump. His failure to see beyond the trees leaves me wondering who the hell is really in charge down at the White House.

I’ve written about the fact that President Bush and his Vice President have no real energy policy short of just consuming more oil. After the 2000 election, on January 29th 2001, President Bush signed an executive order creating the National Energy Policy Development Group in which Vice President Cheney was the chair and consisted or predominantly of energy industry executives. The Vice President cloistered himself and his staff with this group and eventually with some members of environmental organizations (to assuage the claim that only the oil and energy industry was actually consulted) and hammered out the National Energy Policy which can be downloaded here.

When you read this document now you look and see that well over 50% of the document is focused on the discussion of oil and of tapping more oil domestically — whether it’s in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR), the Rockies, or offshore — coal and nuclear. No surprise there since it reads like the oil and energy industry participants pretty much wrote the report. Very little of the report discusses renewable energy (i.e. Solar, Wind, Wave, biofuels) development in a meaningful way. The bulk of the report is focused on expanding domestic drilling for oil and gas as well as coal use. The report spends approximately four paragraphs on wind, and five paragraphs on solar. Is it no surprise then that we are now facing an energy crises of near historic (if not historic) magnitude?

And it comes as no shock that President Bush, last week, called for expanded drilling for oil and gas in ANWR as well as opening up the offshore leases around the United States? It shows how one-dimensional his and his administration’s thinking really is. In fact President Bush went so far as to try and push the eventual blame onto Congress and Congressional leaders (i.e. Democrats):

“I ask them to reconsider their positions,” he said. “If congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act.”

Reichman, Deb, “Bush says Democrats keep blocking his energy plans,” http://www.cnbc.com/id/5966983/for/cnbc/

 

How utterly lame and pathetic of this President to sit there and to say that if Congress doesn’t pass legislation by the July 4th recess (now a little over a week away) then the Congressional leadership (being Democrats at the moment) will be responsible for the consequences. This from a President who had the opportunity to move in a new direction (especially after 9/11) and to chart a new course for America that would not only have us energy independent but also a leader in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. After 9/11 the President could have said “Energy Independence is the Manhattan Project of this generation.” Yet rather than that he called on Americans for their “continued participation and confidence in the American economy” (Pelligrini, Frank, “The Bush Speech: How to Rally a Nation,” Time Magazine, September 21, 2001, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,175757,00.html) (by the way, this is where the infamous “go shopping” call came from). On top of that he called on Americans not to make sacrifices as was done in World War II but rather said

one of the great goals of this nation’s war [on terrorism] is to restore public confidence in the airline industry. It’s to tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.

“At O’Hare, President Says “Get On Board,” http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010927-1.html

 

Bush’s failure to acknowledge the reality that America is a) too dependent on foreign oil and b) cannot domestically drill our way out of this situation has resulted in the situation we have now. It will not be Congress’ fault entirely that we have arrived at this juncture — it is his and his administrations fault as well. And no amount of domestic drilling will get us out of this. We must break our “crack addict” like addition to oil and only a responsible energy policy will get us that. It doesn’t surprise me that President Bush would claim that the fault lies with Congress if they don’t accede to his demand. His “I’m a Uniter not a Divider” platitude went out the window the minute he was sworn into office. This administration will become known as the most partisan of all and will go down as one of the worst, if not the worst administration of American history.

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