$4-a-gallon gas: The new normal?

Anyone have any bright ideas? said the Pitts

Anyone have any bright ideas? said the Pitts­burgh Tribune-Review in an editorial. The price of gasoline touched $4 a gallon this week in some parts of the country, a bitter milestone for motorists and conclusive proof—if any were needed—that this nation’s energy policy in recent years has been an utter joke. The only actual action taken, you’ll recall, was the granting of massive subsidies to the ethanol industry, a scheme now universally recognized for what it was: “money down a rathole.” Meanwhile, said Donald Lambro in The Washington Times, “well-meaning environmentalists” have blocked every sensible proposal to expand the supply of energy. No drilling in Alaska. No new oil refineries. No new nuclear power stations. It’s time to tune out the hippies and the caribou and let the free market take care of this problem.

Motorists may be hurting right now, said Paul Krugman in The New York Times, but it’s nothing compared to the existential agony of conservatives. Throughout the recent surge in gas prices, the Right has insisted that we’re living through some sort of artificial “oil bubble” and that prices are about to fall from $100-plus a barrel to $30 … any minute now. Why the “wishful thinking”? Because the realization that we’re simply running out of oil threatens all the fundamental conservative beliefs. Just imagine the Right’s horror if fiercely individualistic Americans have to surrender their Hummers to ride the bus to work like common Europeans. It’s not just the thought of “rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi on buses” that has conservatives horrified, said Andrew Leonard in Salon.com. A permanent gas crisis would make it seem churlish indeed to scorn careful stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources. “The very idea that dirty Gaia-worshipping hippies might be right is absolute anathema.”

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