Supporters of Bush Energy Plan Fight Back

As both the nation's weather and its ongoing debate over energy policy heat up, some supporters of President Bush's energy plan have formed a coalition to fight off criticism from the environmental community.

"In case you haven't looked around yet or read the headlines, we are in a serious pickle," said Jason Wright, director of special projects for Frontiers of Freedom, a free-market advocacy group.

Frontiers of Freedom is a member of the 21st Century Energy Project, a group of conservative and free-market advocates who fear they have lost crucial ground in the ongoing public-relations battle over energy policy as environmentalists and other critics have made effective use of broadcast media and the Internet to attack the president's plan.

"So far, the environmentalists are really winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the public on energy policy," said Bob Lichter, a media analyst for the Center for Media and Public Affairs. "When the choice is between warm and cuddly animals and greedy, big oil companies, the animals are going to win every time."

So the 21st Century Energy Project has begun a counterattack with radio and print ads that invoke memories of the energy crises of the 1970's, using many of the same tactics as the critics who employ images of caribou and polar bears.

"Our mission here is to counter all of the misleading and very harsh rhetoric that we have seen come out of the liberal groups over the past two weeks," said Ed Gillespie, director of the 21st Century Energy Project.

The ad campaign they have launched recalls long gas lines, rationing, and President Jimmy Carter's suggestion that Americans wear sweaters to save on heating bills.

The group is also quick to point out, as President Bush has, that California is among the nation's leaders in energy-conservation efforts, and yet it still faces energy shortfalls.

"If conservation alone could solve the problem, California wouldn't be facing high rates and rolling blackouts," the ad states.  The debate over energy problems in California swirls over questions concerning the state's partial deregulation of the energy industry several years ago, environmental regulations that have limited the ability to generate energy in the state and alleged price-gouging by energy producers outside the state.

But the "remember the bad old days" strategy could prove risky for the president's allies.

"The problem for supporters is that the memories of the last energy crisis have faded. Bush needs to present himself as a conservationist, someone who cares about the environment but also wants to solve our problems now instead of in twenty years," Lichter warned.

Fox News' Sharon Kehnemui contributed to this report