Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times that President Bush's spokesman Ari Fleischer is using the Mideast crisis as yet another reason to pass the administration's energy bill, particularly the part about drilling in ANWR.

At the New York Times, this is sin to the nth. They call it drilling in the cathedral.

Krugman makes the following point, and I'm quoting him here, more or less: Even at its peak — a decade or so after drilling began — oil production from ANWR would reduce imports by no more than the same amount we would save by forcing an increase of gas mileage to three miles to the gallon.

The three miles to the gallon part may or may not be true. Enviros cook these numbers in crock-pots. What is true is the decade of production part.

A decade ago, we sent 500,000 troops to the Middle East to protect Saudi oil while people like Krugman were saying never, never, never drill in ANWR.

If we had heard that Gulf War wake-up call, and opened ANWR as many were demanding, we would be using that oil now.

If Krugman wants to drive around in a car that gets three miles to the gallon... good. It will also be made of tin thinner than a beer can, so he better not let any of those loons out there bump into him because it's gonna hurt.

But there is no sane reason for ANWR to be off limits. There was none a decade ago, and there is none now. Fleischer is right to link the Mideast to ANWR.

If we had ANWR ten years ago, or when the Clinton-era enviros controlled every door in Washington... if we had drilled offshore and allowed prices to rise so domestic production would be worth undertaking, we might have just a little energy independence — just enough to use as leverage against our blackmailing Mideast suppliers.

ANWR and the Mideast do go together.

That's My Word.

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