New York governor George Pataki (R) is delusional if he thinks he’s going to win the Republican nomination for president. McCain might have a teeny tiny eensy beensy sliver of a chance. Giuliani, even eensier. But Pataki, no. The very things he’s done to appeal to moderates in his home state will damn him irredeemably in the eyes of today’s Republican base.

That said, he does seem set to run, and as peakguy on Oil Drum NYC says, his final State of the State speech may well be setting up one of the central planks of his strategy: independence from "foreign oil."

Not just here in New York, but across the nation, our reliance on foreign oil is hampering the financial freedom of our working families and their employers; it is hurting our economy, damaging our environment and enriching regimes that support, harbor and encourage the terrorists who threaten our national security.

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You’ll be hearing this kind of stuff from members of both parties. It will be pitched to sound tough on national security and bullish on the economy. Environmental messages will be muted at best.

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I must say I’m skeptical about the electoral efficacy of energy independence, at least at present. While it is carefully calibrated to appeal across a number of demographics, I don’t think anybody but environmentalists really feel fired up about it. Like most environmental issues, its appeal is broad but shallow.

We’ve had high gas prices this year, and that put oil on everybody’s radar. And of course there’s, you know, the Iraq war, which according to a new study may run this country up to $2 trillion. But most folks still don’t connect that to oil.

Most people have not have their lives directly affected by our dependence on oil — at least in ways they perceive as such. Most people are still living their comfortable, driving, suburban, middle-class lives just fine. It will take a huge, sustained price spike, I think, before "energy independence" gets any real traction as a campaign slogan.

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