Monday, April 28, 2008


Like every other American, I have a secret list of what I consider to be life’s guilty pleasures. Some are traditionally (and pathetically) obvious: Egyptian cotton sheets, a good bottle of sangiovese, a classic Audrey Hepburn romance film, and a sinfully expensive pair of Italian heels.

But as of late, I have a new guilty pleasure: taking advantage of every opportunity to mock, ridicule, and scoff at Bush’s disastrous embarrassment of a Presidency. You know the feeling – the painfully enjoyable sensation you get every time he delivers a muddled, ambiguously misconstrued speech – the sadistic feeling of shock and disbelief after watching him cowboy swagger to the podium with his Cheney-posse. I have a feeling that I’m not alone on this one.

So this weekend, when practically handed a new opportunity for a Bush-attack, I surprised myself by suddenly recognizing the dangerous trap I had fallen into. My guilty pleasure had turned into a perilous blame game. Somehow, in an effort to shun Bush, we’ve begun to mimic him – placing blame instead of taking responsibility.

George W. Bush is not to blame for America’s oil crisis.

The Republicans, Cheney, Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi War, Ben Bernanke, hedge fund managers, and subprime mortgage lenders are all not the secret culprits behind the prices at the pump.

Like all Americans, I’m crushed about the price of gas and I’m giddy about the upcoming election. But we need not confuse the two. Ending the Bush regime will accomplish a lot of great things (think: better healthcare, decreased unemployment, sounder war policy) but the election will not suddenly reverse the 25% increase in the price of light crude oil this fiscal year.

Crude prices are a global problem; they’ve surged more than fivefold since 2002. The spread of globalization and the demand of emerging economies (China) have placed an increased strain on a diminishing resource. Americans aren’t the only ones vying for oil anymore. Simple economics: increased global demand coupled with a diminishing supply. Sure, the fall of the dollar and geopolitical problems exacerbated oil prices; but we need to look beyond America’s economic status.

So instead of placing blame, we need to begin to rethink our relationship with oil. It’s also important to recognize that the prices won’t be going down – regardless of the upcoming election. We need substantial action – and I don’t mean purchasing a Toyota Prius Hybrid. We need to consider new innovative methods of travel, specifically by means of electric public transportation. And we need to rethink our relationship with plastics and rubber – both oil dependent necessities.

Bernanke will walk the tightrope of interest rate cuts again on Wednesday. Perhaps he can manage to rescue the American people without allowing inflation to increase. Perhaps we’ll see the stock market bottom out during the third quarter summer lull. Perhaps we’ll all get in a few more pleasure-filled laughs from our comedian of a President.

Either way, it’s about time for us all to scratch oil-hungry SUVs and long scenic joy rides off our guilty pleasures list. We’d all be better off with a little more chocolate and red wine anyways.

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