I’ve become quite cynical over the past week regarding the cost of gas, even more than usual (I know that’s hard for some to believe, lol).
It all started while I was sitting in my car at the intersection of Crenshaw and Adams and had to do a double take at the price of gas. $4.93. No it was more like, $4 bleep bleep bleep 93!!!!!!!
I couldn’t believe my eyes so I actually drove around the block and parked, got out of the car with my digital camera and took a picture.
It was just Memorial Day Weekend that in L.A. we made the hike up to $4. It’s mid June, we’re 7 cents away from $5, and oil analysts are predicting $6 by July.
And for those that don’t live in Los Angeles, please understand that unlike New York, we don’t have a mass transit system to rely upon in these hard times. We are forced to drive, hence our notorious traffic.
So yesterday’s blockage by Senate Republicans of the Democratic initiative to tax Big Oil profits to me was just another Washington “dog and pony show” designed to make you and me feel better. The measure failed to achieve the 60 votes required by Senate rules to proceed. The vote was 51-43.
We’ve seen it before, the Dems put forth a piece of legislation that’s supposed to make us think that they are in Washington fighting for us, and then the evil Republicans swoop in and kill it. Bad Republicans. But let’s be real, bad Democrats too.
When it was all said and done, at the end of the day, both Democrats and Republicans scattered off to their various fundraisers in chauffeured driven high polluting Lincoln Town cars while their constituents were left to decide between food or gas.
“We’re not afraid, on this side, to go after Big Oil when they are not doing the right thing,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. “And we are not afraid to go after OPEC because they are a cartel that squeezes us.”
I am not sure who the “us” that Sen. Schumer speaks of is. Because to the best of my knowledge, in California, with the exception of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) in the House of Representatives, I can’t think of one California Representative or Senator who has demonstrated that they are one of “us.” (Lee gets a nod of approval for taking the Food Stamp Challenge and living on $21 worth of food for one week, the average weekly benefit for a food stamp recipient.)
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
America’s political etiquette dictates that elected officials are to be treated more like Hollywood celebrities than public servants at all times, even during times of extreme duress ($4.93).
So while your average taxpayer sees a 30 sec sound byte of a Representative “going off” on Big Oil’s record profits at the expense of their constituents during a “dog and pony show” hearing on Capitol Hill, keep in mind, it’s mainly for show.
Because back at home, those same constituents, the “us” I assume Schumer is referring to, are footing the bill for Lincoln Town cars and SUVs that come complete with a chauffeur and a limitless gas allowance.
And even though Congress has been screaming about global warming, renewable energy, and America’s dependence on foreign oil, it doesn’t extend to their own taxpayer funded lives.
For example, an amendment to last year’s energy bill requires House members who lease vehicles through their taxpayer office budgets to drive cars that emit low levels of greenhouse gases.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think that includes Lincoln Town cars, Lexus’, Cadillac’s, and Ford Expedition’s.
I guess what’s good for the gander isn’t necessarily good for the goose. Because while Congress has mandated more fuel-efficient vehicles for “ us,” the public, (a public that quite frankly can’t afford to fill their tanks much less go out and by a brand new car), when it comes to their taxpayer funded vehicle, nothing but the best will do.
According to an article published last month in the Los Angeles Times, twenty-one of California’s 53 House members lease vehicles, among them Reps. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) and Laura Richardson (D- Long Beach ).
The lease requirement passed narrowly last August after a brief debate, with most Democrats – including Watson — supporting it and most Republicans — opposing it. (Richardson was not in Congress for the vote on the amendment but supported the energy bill in December.)
In the article, Watson grew testy when asked recently about her taxpayer-funded vehicle.
“You guys ask me such idiotic questions,” Watson snapped. Her spokeswoman, Dorinda White, explained that Watson chose the Lincoln because she is “over 6 feet tall in shoes” and spends a lot of time driving around her district.
But the double talk and fake sympathy doesn’t come from just the Dems.
In the same article, some Republicans lashed out at Democrats, accusing the House leadership of hypocrisy.
“I will start driving a green car once Pelosi starts ballooning back and forth from coast to coast to save jet fuel,” said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who has made climate change a top priority.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the Chevy Suburban the speaker uses was selected by the sergeant-at-arms, who oversees her security. But Hammill noted that Pelosi has asked that her next vehicle be a hybrid.
So again, I find it very hard to believe some of the rhetoric coming out of Washington from people who not only ride around in taxpayer funded chauffeured luxury vehicles, they defend it.
But short of getting caught toe tapping in the men’s restroom, there is very little that will move voters to hold their representatives accountable. This would include them supporting the opposition in one of America’s most historical Presidential elections against the wishes of their constituents. And they know it too, because my Rep. was up for re-election last week, but I was hard-pressed to find one lawn sign or campaign flyer to tell me this. She knows, like I know, that her seat, like the campaign she supported for President, wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
That’s because the temperament of the average voter, you know the one where we like to complain about the people that we elect term after term but that’s about it, just about guarantees that scenario is played out with each election.
So when it comes to the issue of the today’s gas prices and who’s fighting for “us” and who’s fighting against “us,” the Democrats and the Republicans are hard to tell apart.
And because I am not the average voter, I actually engage myself in the politics that govern my life choosing to make my own decisions rather than have them made for me, I find myself becoming more and more cynical and critical of a Congress whose own Members can’t possibly identify with the average driver who doesn’t have the privilege of being chauffeured around and has actually to pump their own gas.
I guess what I am trying to say is that at the end of the day, America’s drivers are on their own on this one.
For some, that’s a hard pill to swallow because I think we all want to believe that the person we sent to represent us is in Washington is less concerned with their taxpayer vehicle, campaign contributions, and reelection, and more concerned about their constituents who are suffering at the pump and the grocery store. I wanted to believe that too, until I made the decision to take the “red pill,” waking me up from a slumber of political deference and apathy. And it’s times like these when I wish I was still naïve, because once you know, you can’t just fall for the okeydoke.
But alas, our fair-weather friends in Congress have no real worries on yesterday’s showdown over Big Oil.
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Hitting the gas companies might make for good campaign literature or evening news clips, but it won’t address the problem. This bill isn’t a serious response to gas prices. It is just a gimmick.”
And he’s right. It’s the same gimmick that both Democrats and Republicans have managed to pull about every two years co-signed by “us.”
Makes me just want to scream, “kiss my gass!!!!”