Republicans Feeling the Heat from High Gas Prices

From Holden:

They started a war for oil that has actually decreased the number of barrels produced by Iraq and they just rammed through Chimpy’s energy bill that does nothing but give tax breaks and kickbacks to the oil industry. The GOP is not the party of responsibility, it’s the party responsible.

At a town hall meeting this week, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) wanted to talk about Social Security and Medicare, but the session quickly turned to gas prices.

When Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) toured a Veterans Affairs clinic Wednesday, the first question put to her was: “What are you going to do about the high price of gasoline?”

And a growing number of GOP officials worry that, as the party in power, Republicans will pay their own high price — at the ballot box. They are scrambling to find ways to respond.

“People are mad as hell,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

[snip]

“We should be nervous,” said Kingston, vice chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Polls show that the public blames politicians — after oil companies and foreign oilproducing countries — for the high prices. A Harris Poll released Wednesday found that Americans ranked gas prices among the top five issues for the government to address. Compounding the problem for the GOP, Democrats are spotlighting fuel costs in their campaign to wrest control of Congress.

Republican candidates facing tough races in 2006 should be worried, said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican political consultant.

“If I were a guy in a marginal race, I would be all over the oil companies,” he said. “I’d be getting ahead of the curve right now, hauling them before my committee, holding hearings throughout my state — maybe introducing legislation to cap their CEO salaries.”

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) predicted: “When [voters] start to see that this is not the end but the beginning [of high prices], they are going to be kind of harsh.”

[snip]

[Rep. Joe] Barton [R-Oil Indusrty], the House Energy Committee chairman, said complaints about high prices were hard to escape.

Because his car has a congressional license plate, people have come up to him and asked, “Are you Congressman Barton?” But with public irritation so high, he said, “My temptation is to say, ‘No, I’m just working for him.’ “