OK, here we are with Part II of today’s gaggle obsession:
Q So with the vote yesterday, you’re halfway to opening up the ANWR, which means that if things keep going your way, in eight to 10 years we might start to see some of the first oil from the Wildlife Refuge coming to market. What can the President do in the next few months to get the price of oil and gasoline down?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, John, the problem here is that Congress has failed to act on a comprehensive energy plan, because —
Q That’s not the problem. The problem is that the price at the wellhead is $57, and the price at the pump will soon be $2.50. And even if they passed the energy bill three years ago, it wouldn’t be doing anything about the price of oil.
MR. McCLELLAN: You can advocate your position, you’re welcome to do that.
Q I’m just stating the facts.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, the facts are that we have run into this problem year after year because of a failure to act on a comprehensive energy plan. The President, four years ago, outlined a comprehensive energy strategy and called on Congress to pass it. It is a plan that will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy and make us more energy self-sufficient. That’s what we need to do. We need a comprehensive solution, not patchwork crisis management.
[Blah-blah, president concerned about prices, blah.]
Q But even if he had the opportunity to say, “yahoo” four years ago, we’d still be four years away from seeing the first oil flowing out of it, so the comprehensive energy plan would do nothing to ameliorate the prices that we’re seeing at the pump right now. So what else can the President do?
MR. McCLELLAN: Do you have a suggestion on what you would like us to do? You seem to be very much the advocate that we need to do —
[Uh-oh, Scottie tighty-whities just crawled up his ass.]
Q I’m just asking if you can do something.
MR. McCLELLAN: Do you have a suggestion? You said that — you suggested that we could do something. Now, we can make sure that there’s not price gauging going on —
Q If I were standing where you were, I’d probably have a whole lot of suggestions, but I’m not, I’m down here.
MR. McCLELLAN: We can make sure that price gouging is not going on. We can make sure that OPEC-producing nations and non-OPEC producing nations understand that it’s important that we all act in a way that encourages continued economic growth. That means making sure that there are adequate and abundant and affordable supplies of energy, because that’s important to a growing world economy and a growing economy here in the United States.
And the most important thing we can do, though, is continue to call on Congress to act and pass a comprehensive energy strategy, and not let a small number of individuals prevent that from happening.
Q One thing I’m confused about your answer, are you saying the reason why gas prices are so high is because Congress hasn’t acted for the past four years?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m saying that we are dependent on foreign sources of energy, and America needs to be more energy self-sufficient. The President outlined a comprehensive plan. It expands conservation, it increases energy efficiency, it diversifies our supply here at home, and it also addresses another important problem, our electricity grid. It calls for modernizing our electricity grid. We saw from the blackouts of a year, year-and-a-half ago, what occurred there. That’s why now — that’s why we need to act on a comprehensive energy plan so we don’t keep revisiting this issue year after year. This is an issue that continues to recur because we have not taken steps to reduce ourselves of our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Q So does Congress’s failure to act — is that the reason for —
MR. McCLELLAN: There are many people in Congress that are committed to acting on a comprehensive energy plan, but there are some that are blocking those efforts from proceeding forward. And I think the American people should know what the facts are. We submitted a plan; we submitted it four years ago when the President first came into office. This was a high priority, because we’ve seen the problems that occur, and we’ve seen the problem that occurs year after year because of rising energy prices. That’s why the President led, that’s why the President put forward a proposal, and Congress needs to act on that proposal.
Go ahead, John.
Q Going back to drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, isn’t it the case that in ten years or so, when we do get some oil going into barrels, that oil isn’t going to be put in barrels and put up on the shelf for Americans; it will, in fact, go on the world market. So isn’t it the case that even if we are slightly lowering our dependence on foreign oil, the understanding that this oil is for us is not correct.
MR. McCLELLAN: It will help reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, because the view of geologists is that there’s ample supplies of oil available in ANWR. And what we’re talking about is a very small footprint on the land there. And new technology helps us make sure that we can do this is an environmentally responsible way. So it is part of reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Q But the oil itself is not put aside for the U.S. It goes onto the world market like other oil.
MR. McCLELLAN: That will help us here at home reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy by providing much more supply of energy here in America.
Q Do you think it would help the Bush energy plan, in terms of moving it forward, if now was the time to come forward and say who specifically was on that energy task force and lift any kind of shadow that still hangs over it?
MR. McCLELLAN: We’ve been through this issue a number of times.
Go ahead, Paula.
Oh, my, the steam is just jetting out of Little Scottie’s ears. Bad press corps, no doughnut!