In marked contrast to European leaders who have refused to bend to public pressure to lower gasoline prices — some even stating concerns about conservation and global warming — Vice President Al Gore yesterday urged President Clinton to dip into the country’s emergency petroleum stockpiles to make heating oil cheaper before winter (read: Election Day). The Gore campaign has determined that the rising cost of oil could hurt him in several swing states, and that the vice president could win points with middle-class families with his new stance and remind voters of the oil roots of his opponent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Bush responded by calling Gore’s idea “bad public policy” — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has never been tapped during peacetime — and said as president he would “aggressively expand” domestic oil production. Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney reiterated his view that drilling should be allowed in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Gore’s proposal yesterday was part of a larger energy package that calls for giving people up to $6,000 in tax credits for buying electric or fuel-cell cars and $5,000 for hybrid cars.

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