The two political parties confront $4 a gallon gas and respond with distinctly different attitudes. The parties can't even agree on whether high gas prices are good or bad.
For Barack Obama, rising gas prices are not such a bad thing -- because they force ignorant consumers to finally become green. He just wishes the increase had been more "gradual."
Republicans, in contrast, watch gas prices skyrocket, realize that this hurts individuals and our economy, and therefore try to formulate policy that will lower prices. Consequently, Republicans persist with the shocking notion that perhaps energy independence begins at home, by extracting the coal and the oil with which our country has been so richly blessed.
Democrats mock the idea that drilling in Alaska or off our coasts can reduce gas prices. They complain that it would take eight years for the oil to reach the gas pump, which coincidentally, is about how long ago Bill Clinton vetoed the necessary legislation. In any event, given that today's oil price reflects the futures market, even an announcement that we will begin drilling in Alaska would lower the price of gas today; estimates range between fifty cents to a dollar a gallon.
Rather than looking for energy in an oil or coal field, Democrats cry for blood from the supposed Robber Barons of the oil industry: sock 'em with windfall profit taxes. We've seen this movie before. Jimmy Carter tried it during our last energy crisis and it didn't work.
On this point, John McCain is correct: Obama is running for the second term of Jimmy Carter's failed administration.
And to get that second term, it's in Democrats' interests that oil prices remain high and voters remain mad. (Ironically, it was just that sort of voter anger that forced Carter out of office.)
Just as Democrats had an interest in the surge not working in Iraq, they have a distinct electoral interest in gas prices increasing up to the election. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell addressed their conflict of interest head on.
"Washington Democrats have repeatedly refused to allow increased energy production here at home — even though, as we all know, increased supply leads to lower prices. It’s as if they are doing everything in their power to keep gas prices from going down,” McConnell said.