"He's declaring war on Congress." That's how Andrea Mitchell summed up President Bush's just concluded announcement on his lifting the executive ban on offshore oil drilling.
BUSH: Today, I've issued a memorandum to lift the ban. With this action, restrictions have been cleared away. this means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress. Now the ball is squarely in Congress's court. Democratic leaders can show that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people by matching the action I've taken today, repealing the ban and passing legislation to facilitate offshore exploration.
Now, everyone knows that Congress is suffering through their own spate of low approval ratings - probably because they're all such huge fans of warrantless wiretapping and not ending the Iraq war - but really, you sort of have to feel bad for Congress here. I distinctly remember - like it was yesterday - President Bush going right before Congress and telling them something altogether different:
[From the State of the Union address, January 31, 2006]
And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.
So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy.
We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
Nowhere in there will you find any instruction to tear up the coastlines on a mad dash for more oil. So it's really disconcerting to hear Bush suggest that Congress has been obstructing a measure that the White House itself was obstructing up until about five minutes ago.
But that's George W. Bush! Always declaring war on the wrong people! Right now, though, it's very clear that the nicest thing Congress could do for the President is stage an intervention.