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Transportation Policy

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

2:00 PM EDT on May 23, 2008


Memorial Day 2007 fun on the GWB. For maximum verisimilitude, replay ad infinitum.

Biting commentary on the D.C. dog and pony show isn't just for Streetsblog anymore.

The New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn has a not-so-subtle indictment of this week's Congressional hearings on gasoline prices, where slippery oil executives were lined up before flustered pols like "targets in a carnival dunk tank."

It was the Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend - the ideal time for Congress to show its solidarity with angry American motorists. Ms. [Debbie] Wasserman Schultz, [House] Democrat of Florida, channeled the rage of every parent in America who has pulled into a gas station recently on the way to ballet lessons or soccer practice, letting loose on the men from Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and BP America.

"I'm a mom of three young children who filled up her minivan the other day for $68," she said, seething. "Sixty-eight dollars - that's real money. Maybe that's not real money to the five people sitting here because $68 is like a nickel to you, based on the income you all earn."

Ah, the sweet, indelible signs of summer. Baseball. Backyard barbecues. And dramatic Congressional hearings over the rising price of gasoline.

Herszenhorn explains that, as prices keep going up, oil executives insist that market forces are beyond their control, Congressional Democrats threaten punitive actions that few believe will have much if any impact, and Republicans join the oilmen in calling for expeditions for untapped veins -- which Democrats generally oppose. And round and round it goes.

The fecklessness of the politicians and the futility of this latest round of public floggings (who'd have thought one could actually feel sympathy for oil company suits?) was epitomized in a comment from California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters:

“Thank you for being here today,” Ms. Waters told the executives. “If you feel a little bit beaten up on, we all feel beaten up on, so just share the pain. We get our behinds kicked every day in our districts about what is going on.”

So on the advent of this year's driving season (is there a non-driving
season, btw?), as Americans pour hundreds of dollars into their
tanks en route to and from their holiday destinations, they can at
least rest easy knowing that their leaders in Washington are as helpless as they are when it comes to grappling for an answer to car dependence.

We'll see you Tuesday.

Video: mhsslacker / YouTube

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