Oil Addiction? No kidding…
By Zack Furness
In the recent state of the union address the American public was treated to another healthy dose of the Bush administrations’ garbage rhetoric associated with their existing energy initiatives. I hesitate to use the term “policies,” because the word policy almost implicitly entails some form of accountability, which is exactly what prominent Bush cronies have so diligently fought to alleviate over the last six years. Through the quagmire of Bush’s juvenile prose we all became aware of the fact that Americans are addicted to oil and the solution to our problems is apparently nuclear power…that time-tested, safe, and highly efficient form of energy that you might remember from such real life dramas as “Three Mile Island…Whew!” and “Chernobyl: At Least It Wasn’t Our Country.” The stench of hypocrisy emitted from Capitol Hill might have only been eclipsed by the smell of the victory cigars that have been recently smoked by the CEOs of every major oil corporation that posted record profits during 2005. Or perhaps the reeking odor of Bush’s lies was disguised by the aromatic blend of exhaust being casually emitted from America’s largest SUVs that are currently exempt from fuel efficiency standards. Either way, it’s likely that you at least caught a whiff, and let me tell you, it smelled bad so bad that I reached into the closet for my “You Can Never Be Too Safe in This Post-911 World” brand gas mask.
The thing is, Bush Jr. is probably the last person in universe that can be taken seriously when it comes to anything related to fuel efficiency standards, oil reliance, or sensible energy policies. This is the same person that previously blocked legislation that would have increased automobile efficiency standards during the same week that he proposed oil drilling in the Alaskan wildlife reserves. This is the same person that advocated consumption as a response to the terrorist attacks in New York. This is the same person who took suggestions from energy industry representatives and wrote them into law. I mean seriously, the guy OWNED AN OIL COMPANY! And he sucked at it! Bush Jr. and his father have a documented legacy of dealing with oppressive Saudi oil tycoons (see Craig Unger’s House of Bush, House of Saud) and a trail of affiliations with shady energy companies and oil corporations throughout the United States, most notably in Bush Jr.’s stomping grounds of Texas. The Bush Jr. administration has tenaciously set the environmental movement back decades through non-enforcement decrees and a series of federal mandates that have made it easy for polluting corporations to pay fines instead of being held accountable for their conscious assault on the natural world. Moreover, Bush has consistently thwarted blaring scientific evidence, public opinion, and common sense through his approach to the issues of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.
Let’s make no mistake about it, Bush is right when he says that Americans are addicted to oil, but he has no intention of formulating a real solution to this problem. Even if he genuinely wanted to create a sustainable and/or sensible energy policy, which he doesn’t, he knows that his neo-con, rapture-anticipating brethren would never do anything to upset their corporate constituency, especially when such actions would implicitly acknowledge the legitimacy of intellectual positions associated with reason, science, and long-term environmental health. Environmentalists have argued for years that sustainable energy policies would necessarily encourage domestic energy production and thereby decrease our involvement in an already tumultuous Middle Eastern region, and for years, these arguments have been slandered by scientifically-illiterate Republican politicians and their PR henchmen. Moreover, many of the people who loudly advocate environmental responsibility and a decreased emphasis on foreign oil have had their names inscribed into the little black books that belong to our friendly neighbors at Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.
Environmental sustainability benefits everyone, as do policies that promote alternative energy production and create harsh penalties for corporate polluters and price gougers. It’s a no brainer to suggest that the process of importing oil from the Middle East is dangerous and problematic, but at the end of the day, Bush is not going to do a damn thing about it. At the end of the day, he’s going to put on his pajamas, say his prayers, and go to sleep. I can only assume that he’s praying for better set of blinders and for people to stop pointing out what a total sham of a leader he really is.
Zack Furness is a Bad Subjects editor and a teacher at the University of Pittsburgh.