Politics Fuel Debate on Gas

George E. Curry | , Nnpa | 3/25/2012, 9:29 p.m.

in imports from Africa.

"The U.S. actually imports more petroleum from our northern neighbor, Canada, than it does from any other country," the fact-checking organization stated. "And Canada does not appear on the State Department's list of 'dangerous or unstable nations.' Nor do Venezuela, Russia, Angola, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ecuador, the Virgin Islands or Kuwait, which are all in the the top 15 countries from which the U.S. imports oil and other petroleum products."

This is the kind of perspective largely missing from news coverage of the issue, according to Media Matters, the watchdog group. It reported, "In total, 63% of those interviewed or quoted on gas prices by cable outlets were political figures (including politicians, strategists, White House officials and campaign advisors), and only 13% were economists or oil industry experts."

Americans tend to have short memories. Gas was $1.89 when Obama first assumed office. But just six months earlier, it was $4.11 under President George W. Bush, according to GasBuddy.com.

Republicans, with a "drill, baby, drill" mentality, have attacked President Obama for not issuing enough permits to drill. However, the drilling-rig count is twice as high as it was in 2009.

In his weekly radio address last Saturday, President Obama said gasoline prices are part of a larger issue.

"The recent spike in gas prices has been another painful reminder of why we have to invest in this technology," he said. "As usual, politicians have been rolling out their three-point plans for $2 gas: drill, drill, and drill some more. Well, my response is, we have been drilling. Under my administration, oil production in America is at an eight-year high. We've quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs, and opened up millions of acres for drilling."

He continued. "But you and I both know that with only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices - not when we consume 20 percent of the world's oil. We need an all-of-the-above strategy that relies less on foreign oil and more on American-made energy - solar, wind, natural gas, biofuels, and more."