Yes Conservatives, Inflating Tires Beats Coastal Drilling

Bill Scher

The latest conservative lie — regarding Sen. Barack Obama and fuel efficiency — actually has a great amount of truth to it.

On Thursday, conservative radio host Sean Hannity claimed Obama said, “All you need to do is inflate your tires. That’s all you need to do. If every American would join in this effort, of inflating one’s tires, then it’s all going to be fine. And we can still import 70% of our oil from Saudi Arabia. Just keep those tires inflated.”

Conservatives — lovers of childish mockery over substantive ideas — later today are apparently planning to distribute tire gauges at an Obama energy event.

And earlier today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, conservative hack economist (who does not hold an economics degree) Larry Kudlow, a very loud advocate of coastal drilling, said of Obama’s comments about tires, “That’s not really much of a policy.”

No, it’s not. That was Obama’s point.

Obama’s actual comment last week was:

…we could save all the oil they’re talking about getting off drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires, and getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much.

He was decidedly not saying “all you need to do” is inflate your tires, or “my entire energy policy” is inflating your tires.

(Obama has a much larger energy plan centered on investment in renewable energy and fuel efficiency technology. Similarly, it would not be fair to say Sen. John McCain’s “entire” energy policy is coastal drilling, when he is also advocating loosening regulations on nuclear power and a contest to promote battery technology.)

Obama was observing that coastal drilling would save us so little oil and so little money even twenty years from now, that you can actually save more money immediately by doing “simple things” such as keeping your tires properly inflated.

Where did he get that crazy idea? From George Bush’s Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency. (hat tip: Get Energy Smart! Now!)

Their joint site is loaded with fuel-saving, money-saving tips. Keep your tires properly inflated, for example, and you can save up to 12 cents a gallon.

Compare that immediate savings from that single tip, with what coastal and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling combined would get you two decades from now: 6 cents a gallon.

And that’s being generous, because Bush’s Energy Department says we can’t expect any impact on prices from coastal drilling until the year 2030.

In their knee-jerk mockery, conservatives are flying closer to the truth then they intend to.

Inflating your ties does not amount to an energy policy. It’s just more of a policy than coastal drilling, since unlike drilling for a tiny amount of oil, it would at least save us some money now.

A real energy policy would provide us consumers with a energy choice besides buying huge amounts of increasingly expensive oil. Maybe if conservative Senators stopped filibustering every proposal that would help provide such choices, and force their Big Oil donors to face some competition, we could get somewhere.

See our Making Sense alerts on coastal drilling and gas prices for more.

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