Tuesday, April 29, 2008

By the numbers

In his ridiculous and embarrassing press conference today, the former governor of Texas said the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge contains "27 million gallons of diesel and gasoline from crude oil." That's as much gasoline as American's burn during a single 5 o'clock rush hour. But even if he meant to say 27 billion barrels of oil, that's still far from reality based. According to ANWR.org, a website that promotes the exploitation of the national wildlife refuge, "Studies of the ANWR coastal plain indicate it may contain between 6 and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil." The 27 billion figure is wildly optimistic estimate of the oil "in place", that could be recovered if the higher estimates are correct, and if oil companies think it is profitable to invest in new technologies to suck the last drops of oil from the Earth's crust before the human race returns to its hunter gatherer roots.

How can Bush even pretend to be serious about a national energy policy if he can't even get the numbers right?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

In hot pursuit

There was a time when Bush Administration officials could tell a lie with the best of them. Sure, they fell short of fooling all of the people all of the time, but you have to admit, their WMD/alQaeda-Saddam link whoppers had most Americans, and 99 percent of the press, going for a while.

And that's what has me puzzled about Cheney's latest prevarication. He's telling anyone who will listen (aka Sean Hannity) that if the US leaves The Land Between the Rivers, then al Qaeda will get rich on Iraq's vast oil reserves, and use its new found wealth to destabilize the world.

Listening to the interview, I can imagine Bush and his co-conspirators huddled around a radio in the Oval Office, one of them going "Here it is! Wait for it! It's coming!", and then breaking into Katrinas of laughter when the line comes. "I can't believe he really said it. I bet him a thousand dollars he couldn't pull it off without laughing," says Bush, wiping away a tear.

It's beyond improbable that al Qaeda, a Sunni terrorist group, could wrest control of Iraq's oil fields from 20 million or so Shiites, then develop and maintain the complicated infrastructure, let alone possess the technical expertise necessary to extract one barrel of oil. It's like fearing that the Detroit Crips will seize General Motors, execute a successful corporate restructuring, then use the profits to import more cocaine.

Cheney's fairy tale reminds me of those scenes in TV cop shows where the bad guy is chased down the street, and he keeps knocking things over so they fall in the path of his pursuer to slow him down - a baby carriage, a newspaper rack, a fruit vendor stall. Rebranding al Qaeda as a rogue union of petroleum engineers is intended to slow down the anti-war hounds, to give the toothless media lap dogs one more excuse to back off on pushing calls for troop withdrawal. It also provides Hannity and other barking loons with more talking points to use against the 72 percent of Americans who disapprove of President George W. Bush.