Sharp as a Doorknob

Apparently — and amazingly — something like 42 percent of the American people, polled on the recent steep decline in gas pump prices, believe that President Bush is behind it.

You know, “What a coincidence! Gas prices go down just before an election. Nice try, but we’re not having any of that. We know what is really going on here. Just another cynical political ploy to buy votes.”

Interesting theory. A complete pile of utter bullshit? Yes. But interesting.

First, let me state here that I am no shill for GWB. I like some of what he does, but I don’t like some other things. He is a politician. In general I find politics interesting, occasionally; but more often distasteful, shallow, cynical, insulting, self-serving, and repetitive. Sort of like “The View”.

But just because something sounds plausible, and has some net effect that would benefit somebody relatively more than somebody else, doesn’t mean squat. Lots of things are plausible when you devote no more of your brain to pick it apart than you devote to what color socks to wear today. Lots of things benefit somebody relatively more than somebody else. Almost everything, in fact. Except for Larry King, who benefits nobody.

In particular, here, there is just no freaking way that a President can control the price of a gallon of gas. I’m no oil expert, or economics wizard, but you don’t have to be one to see how quickly this house of cards falls onto itself.

(1) We are expected to believe …

… that singlehandedly, Bush is not just driving down prices at the pump, but is controlling the worldwide price of crude oil, and the oil futures market. These are both going down as well. Hence, pump prices go down. Many of the factors that caused price increases in both of these markets over the last few months have subsided. Israel isn’t fighting Lebanon any more. Iran is free to do what they want with their nukes (though obviously this has other, darker, implications). The oil futures market that was bid up by speculators worrying about another bad hurricane season has come back to Earth. Etc. These things have real impact on you and me, in the form of what we pay at the pump.

(2) We are expected to believe …

… that Bush was, at the very least, complicit in an effort to drive gas pump prices to record highs over the summer, in a devious plot to then slash them in September and October to drive poll numbers up. This, despite the fact that those prices seriously degraded both his poll numbers, and his political capital, at a time when he needed both. This, despite the fact that such a plot amounts to Bush throwing his entire party, and his power base, under the bus, all to elect a few Congressman and a Senator or two, about whom he could really, truly not care less.

(3) We are expected to believe …

… that the price of gas in the United States is controllable by any single force, rather than a worldwide market driven by supply and demand, and affected daily by political news in the Middle East. Remember the Israel-Lebanon war? Remember the Iranian nukes thing? People were nervous. Actually, they should still be nervous, and I’m surprised that the markets have responded so swiftly and decisively in light of the continued sabre-rattling coming from Iran, but there were pretty good reasons for the fact that the price of a barrel of oil hit $80 a few weeks ago. It isn’t just because Bush is a Texas oil man, connected to the oil industry.

(4) We are expected to believe …

… that Bush is forcing a number of huge, multi-billion dollar oil companies to drop prices, enter a price war, and kill their recent huge record profits. Really? So the CEO of Exxon/Mobil is willing to screw shareholders — and himself, in the form of reduced bonuses and options, since the stock will undoubtedly decline? Risking jail, all in an effort to help a few Congressional Republicans keep their elected offices, in a non-Presidential election? That is ridiculous. What’s in it for Exxon/Mobil?

(5) We are expected to believe …

… that the historical fact that the price of gas goes down every year — right after Labor Day! — couldn’t possibly be relevant to this discussion. Every single year, it goes up at the end of May, and down in early September. It’s called supply and demand. It’s how prices are determined. Really, you could look it up. And it has nothing at all to do with politics.

(6) We are expected to believe …

… that the months-long sales slump in big-ass SUVs that get shit gas mileage, and the corresponding sales increase in smaller cars that of course get much better gas mileage, couldn’t possibly be relevant to the falling pump price for gas. Of course not. It’s that evil George Bush, screwing us again!

This is craziness. Seriously, it’s loony. It’s enough to make me want to administer basic tests in civics, economics, logic, and the like as a pre-condition for voting.

Some things, as Toby Keith says, don’t have a f***ing thing to do with politics.


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