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Who Likes High Gas Prices?

     Most politicians want to be seen working to bring down their constituents gas bills, but some have argued and voted for higher taxes. Liberal activists openly enjoy President Bushs low poll numbers as gas prices rise, while they lobby for a greener society. And the media have been complicit in the agenda-pushing, offering their own opinions and plenty of air time for those on the left. The Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project) revealed some of these high-price advocates, often using their own words.


The Media
     The media have served as a mouthpiece for the anti-SUV movement, giving favorable coverage to hybrid vehicles and sometimes offering their own opinions about what could be done to encourage decreased driving. Although the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states they should deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage, the anti-driving, global warming left has found some sympathizers.

     CNNs Jack Cafferty: I hope gas prices go as high as they have to go to get the rest of these morons off the road in these big Hummers, CNNs Jack Cafferty exploded on the March 25 In the Money.

     Fox News Channels Geraldo Rivera: About the only good news is that [high prices] may cut down on global warming but exploding gas prices are hurting lots of people along the way, Rivera said on the April 24 edition of Geraldo At Large. He went on to advocate for the windfall profits tax: Senate Judiciary committee chairman Arlen Specter says Congress should consider taxing the windfall profits being reaped by the oil companies, which I think is a no-brainer. These guys aren't entrepreneurs, they are pirates. Incidentally if you're interested in finding the cheapest prices in your neighborhood, check out the Web. Theres a million sites. And think about trading in that SUV.

     CNNs Miles OBrien: Reacting to a report showing purchases of gasoline-inefficient vehicles are as popular as ever with consumers, the American Morning co-host suggested there could be a good argument for a gas tax in all of this to help pay for these alternative fuels. We have enough gas taxes, dont you think, reporter Carol Costello fired back on the April 25 program. OBrien: Well, maybe we could have more.

     The Washington Post: In a May 5 editorial, the Post declared: Mr. Bush needs to focus less on how the government spends its small research budget and more on how companies spend their enormous ones. That means changing company incentives by making oil less profitable. The Post went further than this advocacy of market meddling, advocating a sliding-scale tax that would kick in when oil prices fell below a certain level. If prices started to fall on their own, the tax would make sure they stayed high. The editorial played the global warming card as well, saying guaranteed higher prices would be better for the climate.

     Thomas Friedman: The New York Times columnist said on April 28 that, in order to decrease dependence on foreign oil, we need a tax on gasoline at the pump that will keep prices around $4 a gallon (still roughly $1 less than most Europeans pay), or we need a tax on vehicles that will make gas guzzlers prohibitively costly and hybrids and smaller cars enormously attractive.


President and Would-Be Presidents
     Democrats in Congress may be talking about lowering gas prices, but the last Democratic president and two presidential candidates all supported higher gas taxes.

     Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.): The Boston Globe reported on March 1, 1994, that Kerry was miffed that his support for more gas taxes had not been noted. After he was overlooked in the Concord Coalitions recognition of deficit-cutting lawmakers, Kerry said the coalition's method did not accurately reflect individual lawmakers efforts to cut the deficit. It doesn't reflect my $43 billion package of cuts or my support for a 50-cent increase in the gas tax, Kerry said.

     Bill Clinton and Al Gore: As The New York Times reported on June 26, 2000, In 1993, Mr. Gore cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate for the administrations economic stimulus plan, which was intended to reduce the budget deficit by cutting spending and raising some taxes, including taxes on gasoline. Some Republicans in Congress are now calling for suspending all or part of that federal gasoline tax.


Liberal Activists
     Environmental organizations and other global warming alarmists want to see Americans weaned off oil for good. Its not surprising that they advocate high prices to stem the tide of fossil fuels. And anyone who criticizes President Bush has had a field day with the latest polls, as the media have attributed plummeting support to soaring prices at the pump.

     Sierra Club: Carl Pope, executive director of the environmentalist Sierra Club, penned a column titled We're better off without cheap gas. Every civilization has its blind spots ideas so profoundly embedded in the culture that they are rarely even debated, but so fundamentally flawed that they can steer a whole society onto the rocks, Pope wrote. Our own folly is cheap fuel.

     Bushs critics: It would be unthinkable if any audience member had missed the medias constant repetition of President Bushs falling poll numbers. Thats a boon to his critics, and gas prices are at the top of the list of culprits. ABCs Elizabeth Vargas was noting the trend back on January 31, the night of the State of the Union address. Like many reports to follow, Vargas gave credit to gas prices for driving down Bushs approval rating:

After what is by most accounts the most difficult year of his presidency, many would say undoubtedly the worst, the president has seen his approval ratings sag, in part due to high gas prices and an inept response to Hurricane Katrina, and the indictment of a high ranking White House official and, of course, growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq Getting back to the presidents approval ratings, Charlie, this has been a tough year for him. The latest ABC poll shows his approval rating now at 42 percent, which is the worst for a president entering his sixth year in office since Watergate hammered Richard Nixon.

     Charles Gibson rejoined: Yes, and other polls actually have him lower than 42 percent. As gas prices have continued their rise, Bushs support has fallen into the low 30+ percentile.