For Rep. Allen West, the skyrocketing price of gasoline is a personal pocketbook issue. The Florida tea-party Republican congressman (who blames President Obama for the price increase) recently wailed on Facebook that it's now costing him $70 to fill his Hummer.
It's hard to feel the pain of a whining, $174,000-a-year, Hummer-driving Congress critter, but millions of regular Americans really are feeling pain at the pump. It's an especially cynical political stunt, then, for Republicans and their chorus of right-wing mouthpieces to use gas-price pain as a whip for lashing Obama's January decision to reject the infamous Keystone XL pipeline.
"Outrageous!" they cried, asserting that Keystone would bring 700,000 barrels of Canadian "tar sands crude" per day through its 2,000-mile-long pipeline to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
"More gasoline for America," they shout, "lower prices for consumers. What's not to like?"
Well, aside from inevitable environmental damage from pipeline leaks, being lied to is one thing we don't like.
Their claim that this Canadian crude would be refined into fuel for our vehicles is a lie. Instead, the refiners intend to export it to Europe, Latin America, and China. The dirty little secret that Keystone backers never mention is that building the pipeline would not shave even a penny off the price we pay at the pump.
Meanwhile, financial speculators and supply manipulators — who are artificially causing our gasoline prices to rise — escape scrutiny, while politicians (tanked up on Big Oil's and Wall Street's campaign cash) divert attention to the bugaboo of Obama's pipeline decision.
And, yet again, our nation postpones the necessary investments in conservation, alternative fuels, and mass transit that will actually solve the gas-gouging problem.
What's not to like?
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.