Happy Memorial Day Weekend

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

  • Mark Walker

    Unfortunately, neither the Times or Streetsblog uses the key phrase “peak oil,” though the president of Shell pretty much lays it on the line when he says: “As repetitive and uninteresting as it may sound, the fundamental laws of supply and demand are at work.” More specifically, peaking supply and rising demand.

  • She should add: “And I’m the mom of three young children who will grow up in a less livable, warming world, because I spent my life driving everywhere.”

    Congress is blaming the oil companies for high prices, but congress has done nothing to keep down prices by reducing demand for gasoline. Someone should ask this kvetching congresswoman whether she ever sponsored a bill to increase CAFE standards or to shift funding from highways to mass transit. That would have kept down demand and prices.

  • Jeez!

    Whaaaaa???? It is summer, already? Then why do we not have an announcement today from DOT press office stating Central and Prospect Parks will be car free this sumer?

    So much for summer of ’08. Another potentially great biking season down the drain…

  • Gekkobear

    You missed Maxine’s best quote. Threatening to “Nationalize” (or Socialize) the entire Oil industry if they didn’t fall in line.

    What a great plan. Look at the success of Zimbabwe if you question this plan. Why their unemployment is barely 80% and their inflation so far this year is just a shade over 1.5 million percent. Wow, how can we get us some of that?

    And I’m sure Exxon-Mobil, and Chevron, and Texaco, etc. will fix things with their manipulations of 5% of the market (the other 95% controlled by foreign Governments who of course are not being berated by congress).

    Some days I wonder if our Congresspeople have any idea what they’re doing, but usually I know they don’t have a clue what they’re doing or what is going on.

    Maxine Waters is not convincing me that Congress is full of clever rational people…

  • Larry Littlefield

    Looks like some State Senators, including Eric Adams, are pushing an “in your face” anti-congesion pricing move. They want the bridges and tunnels to be toll free on holiday weekends, when demand is higher.

  • Thanks for the heads up, Larry. Apparently they’re proposing a “rebate” for drivers of $100-200. Those of us who choose the bus or the train, so as not to pollute or drive up the price of gas, apparently deserve neither “relief” nor rebate.


    I’m glad they don’t control the Port Authority crossings, because the tollbooth my bus usually gets stuck at is the Lincoln Tunnel. But if I lived in Astoria or Hunters Point, I’d be really pissed at the idea of senatorially-sponsored traffic backups in my neighborhood.

    That’s some disgusting pandering there. No chance anyone’s running against these jokers, is there?

  • Paul C.

    “Some days I wonder if our Congresspeople have any idea what they’re doing, but usually I know they don’t have a clue what they’re doing or what is going on.”

    I think they know exactly what they’re doing.

    They’re pandering to the majority of Americans that don’t have a clue what is going on.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    You think the politicians are idiots? Meet the voters.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    “They’re pandering to the majority of Americans that don’t have a clue what is going on.”

    Great one Paul C.!

    But also no one mentioned the fact that our dollar is worth squat these days or about 40% less then it was (a coincidental) 8 years ago. Gas would be just around $2.50 if our dollar was worth what it should be.

    My family in German tell me that gas has gone up for them but only about 20% in the past four years.

    But don’t get me wrong, gas is still WAY too cheap in the US. I see people wasting it all the time and not just in SUV’s. Just one example; I often pass by this supposed security guard who sleeps for hours in his personal car and leaves it idling to keep the AC on. And this guy is far from rich. Best of all he is there to “protect” a 9-spot parking lot from illegal parking while he occupies a space with his own car!

    I’m sorry but our country is so fucked up and there isn’t a more proper adjective to describe it!

  • letsdrive

    This quote from Jeff Klein in the NY1 piece seems like something that should have come from The Onion.

    “Unfortunately, according to AAA, there’ll be 360,000 fewer drivers this Memorial Day weekend, because of high tolls and our very high gas. This is something we need to address immediately,” said Klein.

    It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad.


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