With Americans furious at high gas prices, the economy tottering and an intense presidential campaign underway, oil has now become a very serious battleground. Wednesday, President Bush lashed out at the Democratic Party, blaming them for the debacle.
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GEORGE W. BUSH: So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production. Unfortunately, Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected virtually every proposal, and now Americans are paying the price at the pump for this obstruction.
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Mr. Bush and now John McCain are calling for expanded oil drilling in America, while the Democrats and Barack Obama say no. So who is correct?
Well, "Talking Points" has said for years it's simply foolish not to drill in ANWR, a desolate place that can be kept largely pristine with new technology. Not to use this resource is crazy.
By the way, Senator McCain disagrees with me.
Drilling offshore and in the Rockies is more complicated. The states of Florida and Colorado depend almost entirely on tourism. Any drilling in those states would have to be controlled and noninvasive.
In short, we should explore and be responsible in our drilling strategy, not emotional and ideological. But again, the USA can't drill out of this mess, and there are other solutions.
What about Iraq? So far, the American taxpayer has forked over more than $500 billion — $500 billion — to give the Iraqi people a chance at freedom. That country's now pumping 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. So why isn't Iraq giving the USA an oil price break? I mean, come on. We have greatly sacrificed for that country. Shouldn't they help us out if they can? What say you, President Bush?
Then there are the speculators we talked about Tuesday night. Congress could control them with stricter oversight, but Congress just sits around. Listen to Ben Stein who appeared on "The Radio Factor" Wednesday.
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BEN STEIN: I was just in a room with a whole bunch of speculators who are former Enron traders that are now trading natural gas and oil. And they're laughing their heads off about how much they're manipulating the price of oil. They couldn't care less.
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Well, let's make them care. Tough new standards should be imposed on the speculative oil market because this is a national security issue.
Finally, flex-fuel vehicles should be fast-tracked. Again, Congress must mandate a certain percentage of U.S.-made cars use alcohol-based fuels, at least in part. It's the only way the market's going to change. Millions of flex-fuel cars will force gas stations to install alternative energy pumps.
Both Obama and McCain have deficits when it comes to solving the oil mess, but the first one to get on the side of the folks in this issue will win the election.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Jennifer Lopez is still very popular with the kids. And in Staten Island, New York, some autistic children fell in love with Jennifer, and their teacher Kathy Amati wrote to the singer. So she showed up at their graduation and actually performed. Very nice. For that, Ms. Lopez is a patriot.
On the pinhead front, appearing in Great Britain, Joan Rivers caused a stir.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that a part of your life that you enjoyed doing, that kind of meeting and greeting the celebrities on the red carpet?
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: It was nice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
RIVERS: And we know we're sane. You get someone like Russell Crowe, and you want to say to the camera, he is a piece of — get ready to bleep this — (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry about that. We apologize for that. We were just aware that we were — we're live.
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They apologized. They also tossed Ms. Rivers off the program during the break. That's what happens to pinheads.