The Politics of Katrina

The "Talking Points Memo": the politics of Katrina. Once again, every American should understand that being president, governor, in fact every elected position is a performance business. And now is a time for our leaders to perform. This is not about ideology. This is about helping the folks.

But predictably, The New York Times scorched President Bush today in an editorial, panning his Katrina speech, and insinuating the president's passive stance on global warming had something to do with the killer hurricane.

It was interesting that The Times failed to mention its own environmental policies are now hurting Americans far more than any global warming situation. The Times is consistently opposed new drilling for fuel and opening new refineries. And now we're getting hammered by OPEC and the U.S. oil companies because the fuel pipeline is so fragile.

This is not a defense of President Bush, who is not engaged on the energy issue. "Talking Points" understands the all-encompassing War on Terror and the economy are the president's main preoccupations, but America's failure to conserve energy is a disgrace. And the Bush administration has done little to encourage conservation.

This country uses 25 percent of all the world's oil as we hop around in gas-guzzling cars and generally waste energy all day long. We have to stop that. There's no question in my mind that OPEC and the oil companies are gouging us simply because they can.

So let's buy less gas. In fact, let's buy no gas on Sundays. The USA should have a gas-free Sundays campaign between now and Christmas. None of us should buy gas on our day of rest.

The oil companies and OPEC only make money when we buy their stuff. If we cut back even 10 percent on energy buying, they'll get hurt. Let's all do it. If we don't, the national economy will totter and we'll all be poorer.

Now last night, "Talking Points" called for U.S. oil companies to voluntarily give up 25 percent of their profits in this very tough time by lowering gas prices. This morning, Diane Sawyer asked President Bush about my proposal.


DIANE SAWYER, HOST, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: Some people have said that the oil companies themselves should simply forfeit some of their profits in this time of national crisis. A conservative commentator, a popular one called last night for a 20 percent reduction in the profits. Do you call on.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I'd like to see is corporate America make sure that they contribute to helping these victims, that there be an outpouring of contributions to -- for the relief efforts.


No, the big contribution would be if the oil companies would give up 20 percent of their profits. They'd still make a gazillion dollars. So obviously the president didn't answer Ms. Sawyer's question.

Again, politics is a performance business. The country expects the government to control law breaking in the hurricane zone, to provide food and shelter to the victims quickly, and to prevent any person or company from exploiting this desperate situation. That is the accountability bar. And we will keep you posted on who steps up and who does not.

And that's "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Word from Aruba is that the chief suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway (search) will be released from prison this coming Saturday. Joran Van Der Sloot's father is confirming that. And if true, that will cause a major sensation.

Ridiculous? So far this whole case has been ridiculous.

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