Once Again, Americans Are Falling for a Hustle

I think it was P.T. Barnum who said a sucker is born every minute. He was wrong. In America, a sucker is born every second. How else can you explain the support that the polls show for offshore oil drilling? And how else can you explain the wide-eyed gullibility of television newscasters like Rick Sanchez (photo below, right), who was yucking it up a few minutes ago with some guy from the Wall Street Journal editorial board and a woman who was inexplicably identified as a CNN “news analyst.”Sanchez

Hey Rick! I have news for you. The Wall Street Journal is part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and is the Fox News of print journalism. When you ask a member of its editorial board whether offshore drilling is good for America, what do you expect him to say, Rick?

Of course the guy is going to liken offshore drilling to the invention of sliced bread and the discovery of penicillin. If he did anything less, he would probably find his desk in the parking lot when he returned to the Journal tomorrow morning.

I didn’t catch the name of your “news analyst,” buddy. But she was about as analytical as Caitlin Upton (the contestant from South Carolina in the 2007 Miss Teen USA contest, below, whose dissertation will live forever in dumb-blond lore).Caitlin

Anyway, let’s see if I can set you straight on the issue, Rick. Oh, and by the way, it’s no laughing matter, dude.

The overriding consideration is that Americans (and the rest of the world) will have to get used to high oil prices. The price of oil will decline temporarily, as speculation in oil futures is reined in and consumers learn to conserve, but one day the world will run out of oil, and while the supply wanes, the demand (from population growth and social change around the world) will rise. So what do you think will happen, Rick? That’s right: prices will rise… and rise… and rise.

The oil companies can drill in your driveway (or as you laughingly suggested, your neighbor’s driveway), but as legendary oil czar T. Boone Pickens warns, America can’t drill its way out of this crisis.

Look, I confess: I am a tree-hugging liberal weenie, and I worry about the little fishes and the seabirds and the mess an oil spill would make of our beaches. And I live in Florida, so I also worry about the effect an oil spill would have on tourism. That seems to be the only industry that’s not dead in the water in Florida right now, so I figure we might as well do what we can to protect it.

But, let’s forget about all that. What the heck, if Americans want their beaches trashed, who am I to stand in their way?

Here’s the bottom line: drilling will do nothing (that’s as in zero, zilch, nada, etc.) to “make America energy self-sufficient” and it will not lower the price of gas at the pump. The reasons are complicated, but what it boils down to is this:

Oil is bought and sold on a vast world market, and there’s no way to ensure that the oil that comes out of the ground in America will end up in American service stations. Furthermore, if they got their permits tomorrow morning, the oil from those wells could not reach the market before 2017 (that’s the Bush administration estimate, which means it could take a lot longer).

I can’t figure out why the oil companies are so fired up about getting more drilling permits anyway. They already have leases to millions of acres that are yet to be explored. Maybe they just don’t like being told what to do.

The solution to America’s energy crisis is so obvious, I hate to have to repeat it but if your show is any indication, it needs to be repeated: A massive initiative must be launched to develop alternative sources of energy, while every conceivable energy conservation method is explored (much higher gas mileage standards for American automobiles, for example.)

In the short term, if the powers-that-be really want to help the working stiffs of America get through this period of adjustment to rising energy prices, maybe Barack Obama has an answer: send them $1,000 each to help pay the tab at the pump.

How come you and your guests didn’t mention Obama’s proposal, Rick… Hey Rick! Rick?

Where did that guy go anyway?