Bush’s quasi-bold pronouncements on oil prompt criticism, backpedaling

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Bush declared that “America is addicted to oil” and that he would “make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.” Within 24 hours, fiasco ensued. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador said he would ask Bush, ahem, “what he exactly meant by that.” Oil industry lobbyists squealed; libertarians nigh fainted. Energy experts (read: the literate) pointed out that most of the R&D programs mentioned in the speech — “clean coal,” nuclear, wind, solar, etc. — are designed to generate electricity and wouldn’t have any effect on oil consumption. And to cap off the furor with appropriate absurdity, administration officials said Bush’s declaration that the U.S. would cut its Middle East oil imports 75 percent by 2025 was not meant to be taken literally. It was meant to dramatize the issue in a way “every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands.” So … lies lead to understanding. We’re starting to get the whole WMD thing!

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