This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 26, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Democrats taking more swipes at the President Bush's gas plan, capitalizing on ample public anger over rising prices at the pump. And now it's getting personal.
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SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, D-N.Y.: We are one accident or one terrorist attack away from oil at $100 a barrel, not just $75. We have no leadership.
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CAVUTO: Democrats are calling for the rollback of $5 billion in subsidies granted to oil companies. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also going after oil executives, citing — quote — "their obscene record profits and immoral salaries."
Republicans now firing back, accusing Democrats of being obstructionists by blocking drilling in ANWR. The RNC also pointing out that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the two Democratic leaders, voted not once, but several times, to hike the federal gas tax. And on and one we go.
Are lawmakers more focused on political gain in all of this or on solving the nation's gas problem? Let's ask Democratic Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Senator, thanks for coming.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, D-ILL.: Good to be with you.
CAVUTO: What do you make of Hillary Clinton's remark that we are one event away from $100 oil? Is that a scare tactic, or is there something to what she says?
DURBIN: If you go to the business journals and ask them, is $75 the ceiling for the price of a barrel of oil, they say no. There's no end in sight. There's nothing hold it from going even higher.
And I think what Senator Clinton said is a fact. If there is, God forbid, some emergency or some tragedy, we could see the price of a barrel of oil go up dramatically.
CAVUTO: All right. So, this zeal about trying to do something, you know, you can cast blame, I guess, on both parties, Senator. Democrats didn't do much about this when Bill Clinton was in office. Both parties sort of lagged around on it and only respond when we have these spikes. Who is to say now either party is going to get anything done?
DURBIN: Well, let me suggest, though, that when President Bush was elected president in the year 2000, that, at that moment in time, in November, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.50.
Today, it's almost twice that amount. And, so, under his watch, we have seen a dramatic upsurge in the cost of oil. It's forced airlines into bankruptcy. It has moved a lot of farmers near bankruptcy. And it has really put a hardship on families and businesses, the likes of which we have never seen.
CAVUTO: Are you blaming...
DURBIN: At the same time...
CAVUTO: Wait a minute, Senator. Are you blaming him for that?
DURBIN: I can just tell you, if I can finish, at the same time, the president was pushing his energy policy.
It was Vice President Cheney's inspiration that came up with an energy policy signed by President Bush last August. It hasn't even been in effect for a year. And, since it was signed, the cost of home heating oil and natural gas in the Midwest and the price of gasoline have gone up dramatically. So, if this is their energy policy, it's not working well. I think the president has to accept some responsibility for that.
CAVUTO: Would you and your party accept responsibility, sir, for the fact that, in the mid-1990s, we had a chance to look into tapping in ANWR, and we didn't, that, had we done so then, we could be getting oil from that region now, and at least alleviating this crunch we are in?
DURBIN: Neil, I just love this magic bullet.
If we could just drill in an Alaskan wilderness area, all our prayers would be answered. All of the production out of ANWR, which would start in about 10 years, for the next 10 years in production, is the equivalent of six months energy supply for America. It is not the answer to our prayers.
CAVUTO: But let's not limit it to there, right, Senator? What if we tap wherever we could find oil here, so we rely less on it over there? What is wrong with that?
DURBIN: Well, let me come up with a radical suggestion.
Why aren't we talking about conservation and fuel efficiency? Why aren't we talking about automobiles and trucks that have more fuel efficiency than the ones we drive today? Why aren't we talking about alternative sources of fuel, whether it's alcohol fuels or bio-diesel? Why do you always have to go to the point where you want to push the envelope on the environment, invade a wilderness area with exploration?
CAVUTO: I would say touche to you. Open all those ideas.
But what I typically hear from your party is that resistance to looking for oil elsewhere in this country, and Republicans who are equally resistant to some of those conservation measures. You're quite right to point that out. But I don't hear you guys coming together on this issue. And, so, I hear a lot of demagoguery, by the way, on both parties' parts.
DURBIN: Let me just say this.
I am for environmentally responsible drilling. If you want to drill for oil or gas, at the expense of our natural legacy and heritage, I'm against it. If you want to jeopardize the air that we breathe in this country or the water that we drink, I'm against it.
But I think we can come up with energy sources, environmentally responsible sources. And, then, we have to accept some personal responsibility to buy more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, to start moving toward wind power, solar power, geothermal, alternative fuels, things which have been dismissed with the back of a hand by this administration, which was smitten with the oil company interests. That has to change.
CAVUTO: Although, to be fair to this administration, it was pursuing ethanol when your party pooh-poohed it. I guess the blame again, sir, could go back and forth.
DURBIN: I beg your pardon? I beg your pardon on ethanol? I have been chairman of the Alcohol Fuels Caucus in the House and in the Senate.
CAVUTO: So, when we had this push, and we had this push for alternative energy, are you saying now that you would be open to explore oil in other regions of this country, if the president were to give in on maybe raising the CAFE standards and some of this other stuff? Do we have common ground there?
DURBIN: Remember what I said?