I can’t say I’m expecting much of substance from Bush’s speech tonight. Is anybody?

I am, however, expecting some soaring rhetoric and empty promises. Let’s talk about those.

One issue that Republicans very much want to control is energy independence, which is looming larger and larger in the public mind. They need to preemptively frame it to their advantage. With that in mind — and a few oblique hints from the interview — I’m hazarding a prediction: Tonight, Bush will unveil a splashy energy program.

It will have one of his patented Orwellian names: The Energy Strength and Independence Small Farmer 9/11 Protect American Children Act, now with Extra Freedom!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

It will have three parts:

This will be packaged as an "alternative energy" proposal, along with a bushel of nationalism and xenophobia (foreign oil! foreign oil!), and will ultimately amount to little more than massive subsidies to friendly industries and constituencies. It will not — to point out the obvious — represent a realistic assessment of or response to our increasingly dire energy situation.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

I very much doubt that the words "global warming" will come up; I also seriously doubt that "environment" will, unless it’s in the context of some new crackdown on "eco-terrorism."

Speaking of SOTU and global warming, don’t miss Kit Stolz today. He sent a one-question poll ("Will Bush mention global warming?") to some interesting people and got some interesting responses. Check it out.