Bush asks Americans to avoid unnecessary car trips and save energy

President Bush yesterday called on Americans to drive less and conserve gas. “We can all pitch in,” he said. Of course, “all” is relative: Though the president directed federal agencies to reduce energy use, Republican congressional leaders were meeting even as he spoke to push for more energy-industry subsidies and weaker environmental laws governing fuel production and distribution. This has activists gearing up for a fight. Republican leaders are “racing faster than a hurricane to smash through alleged environmental barriers before anyone realizes what they are up to,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. Still, the unfamiliar call to sacrifice from Bush points out how much Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have rattled confidence in domestic oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, Bush is on his seventh tour of the Gulf Coast since Katrina hit; no word yet on whether he’s scaled back the size of his fuel-intensive motorcade, which typically consists of more than a dozen SUVs, vans, and limos.