Lost in the noise surrounding Eliot Spitzer's fall yesterday was the news that oil topped $110 a barrel.
Yessir. $110 a barrel.
Now that Mr. Spitzer has joined the ranks of the newly-and-foolishly-irrelevant (Mr. Spitzer, have you met Senator Craig?) let's hope the mainstream and cable media types will be able to wrap their brains around the concept of $110 a barrel oil.
Let's hope they realize just how completely and royally screwed everyday Americans are at that price.
$110 a barrel oil smothers everything. From a trip to Target to a fast food meal to renting a video. The entire shooting match. Every stop on your shopping trip. From one end of Main Street to the other. Shot in the butt. And with the death of all that retail will come more job losses.
Out in rural America, what do you suppose $110 a barrel oil does for farmers -- farmers who'll be firing up their tractors and hitting the fields in a matter of weeks? And what do you suppose rising fuel prices on the farm are going to mean when you go to the grocery store?
$110 a barrel oil is big business trouble, too. The CEO of just-out-of-bankruptcy Northwest Airlines says every $1 increase in the price of fuel equals $42 million in increased fuel costs per year. Northwest had been talking about merging with Delta. At $110 a barrel, it would be like a drowning man merging with an anvil.
George W. Bush doesn't go to Target. He doesn't pump his own gas. He doesn't balance the family checkbook. Neither do the people to whom he turns for advice on energy. And neither do most of the talking heads on TV.
To all of them, $110 a barrel oil is an abstraction. It's a theoretical problem like one of those supply-and-demand questions at the back of the first chapter in their freshman econ textbook.
They will not see the price go up at the pump except via TV news b-roll footage. They will not struggle to decide whether to make the car payment or buy groceries. They will not hear the cough that a kid brought home from school and immediately think of the cost of a copay at Urgent Care.
In their exquisitely isolated and myopic affluence, Bush and his cronies and other Republicans may even suggest that the antidote to $110 a barrel oil is to provide further tax breaks and incentives to oil companies. If such is the case, many equally-isolated and myopic mainstream media types will no doubt choose not to call them on it.
Divide $110 into $5,000 and you'll find the former governor of New York paid the equivalent of 45.4545 barrels of oil for an hour of the young woman's time. The transportation, meals, hotel room, minibar almonds and lawyers will not doubt cost extra.
Spitzer is so screwed. But Spitzer is nowhere near as screwed as the American people are under George W. Bush.