There’s a story about Walt Disney that goes something like this: Late in the man’s life, a child attending some kind of special event asked Disney if he might draw a little Mickey Mouse figure on a paper napkin. Disney had spent so many years toiling on his Magic Kingdom that he was no longer able to make even a sketchy outline of the creature he had created and animated years earlier, thus launching his empire.
George Bush has had some thoughts about empire, certainly, and yet he is now unable to summon the oil that, a lot of us anyhow, believe has always been at the heart of the matter for the Bushes.
Early last week, Bush promised to put pressure on the Saudis to make them ease oil prices. But even Mr. Mission Accomplished acknowledges that there is little he or Congress can do to lower gasoline prices soon. And there are also a lot of us who don’t think he’s in that much of a hurry anyhow.
Still, language always matters. Take for example legislation passed by the House last week that purports to be about “energy.” It will give tax cuts and subsidies to “energy” companies and open wildlife areas in Alaska to exploration. You know, for “energy.” They’re going to “explore” wildlife areas for “energy,” because drilling for oil in beautiful natural areas is kind of grotesque.
Bush had a nice handle on things last week when he said that high oil prices were “like a foreign tax on the American dream.” He can say that, and still never get a follow-up question about the relationships between his family, his family’s business, and the Saudis. See, he’s not really criticizing high oil prices, he’s just pointing out that they make Americans unhappy. If he were interested in helping unhappy Americans, he’d probably follow that statement with something like, “And that makes me mad as hell. Because I am an American and I care about America.”
But instead, Bush might be thinking of how he’s going to take a big nap the next three and half years and let the rampant scalping proceed. After all, he’s not really rattled by criticism. Otherwise, the pile of dead Americans and Iraqis resulting from Bush’s invasion of Iraq would, by this time, have turned him into a bundle of nerves. Instead, Bush knows he can kill a thousand American soldiers and still travel into America’s heartland to videotape his Corporations Raid Social Security tele-pageants without incident, without a single hurled egg or discouraging word. So, he’s not afraid of folks getting pissy at the gas pump.
Crude oil prices have risen 40 per cent in the last year. Think of this: You go into Burger King, and the Whopper is suddenly 40 percent more expensive. Or all your groceries. Your cable bill. Your electricity. Your beloved cell phone. Baby, you’d bark. You’d howl like somebody stepped on your paw. Somebody with a big boot who never looks down to see if any innocent creature is in the way. You’d at least bite him in the ankle.
But, for some reason, we just take the beating on oil prices. We’ve bought into some myth that it’s all very mysterious, these leaps and jumps in the price of our gasoline, and somehow we’re not smart enough to really understand what causes it or why it’s happening. I would refer you, then, to any Old West movie in which bandits ride up to a stagecoach, stick guns in the faces of the passengers, and take their money. Those Americans understood exactly what was happening to them.
This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz
1) The new Pope introduced
(a) himself to world media.
(b) his line of men’s casual wear.
( c ) the one and only Billy Shears.
2) A new study indicates that “sports drinks”
(a) do not give you a wicked back hand.
(b) eat at the enamel of teeth.
(c ) are a lot like red dye in water.
3) Conservatives are attempting to
(a) eliminate the filibuster.
(b) lose that goofy Constitution.
(c ) get rid of time-consuming “elections.”
1) (a) “First question, that cute lad from MTV…”
2) (b) “Gatorade gave me Gator Teeth!”3) (a) “Stop talking, and we’ll let you live…”