But, do you remember, back in early 2001, right after Junior usurped the Oval Office, that one of the first acts of his administration was to convene an Energy Task Force, headed by former Halliburton CEO, Dick Cheney? The task force was created to develop an energy policy for the young administration.
Cheney, of course, in his madly obsessive way, conducted the meetings in secrecy. Citing "executive privilege," he refused to disclose the recommendations of the task force, its policies, or even its constituent members. He defied a lawsuit brought by the General Accounting Office, and another by third parties Judicial Watch and Sierra Club filed under the Freedom of Information Act.
All this defiance was based on principle, said Dick. The vice-president needed "unvarnished advice" from his counselors. If a person feared that his name would be exposed to the public, his advice would be tempered by that knowledge. Big Dick couldn't have that.
Well, in the twisted zeitgeist that the Bush administration has created since seizing power, that flimsy explanation comes as close to making "sense" as any that it is likely to produce.
But, now, let's have a look at what has transpired since the policies, apparently derived from the Energy Task Force, have been implemented.
- In 2001, at the end of the Clinton administration's tenure, gas prices for the American consumer were somewhere around $1.70 per gallon. Now, post-energy task force, with the price of crude oil climbing about $100 per barrel, experts predict that gas will be selling at around $4 per gallon within weeks.
- Oil company profits are at record levels. Exxon Mobil profits for the year 2007 were $40.6 billion dollars. The record profits are attributed to surging oil prices.
- James J. Rouse, then vice president of Exxon Mobil and a major donor to the Bush inauguration;
- Kenneth L. Lay, then head of Enron Corp.;
- Jack N. Gerard, then with the National Mining Association;
- Red Cavaney, president of the American Petroleum Institute;
- Eli Bebout, an old friend of Cheney's from Wyoming who serves in the state Senate and owns an oil and drilling company.
Big Dick: Boys, we live in a great country. Look at the size of the federal surplus. The hard-working people of this country are capable of producing incredible wealth. My question to you all is this: why aren't we grabbing it for ourselves?
[Cautious looks pass back and forth between the various parties.]
Big Dick: You see, boys, the people in this country will work and they will produce. But in order to create all this wealth, they need energy. Nothing happens in this country without gas. And gas is what we have to offer. And, boys, people will pay for it.
[More cautious looks. The tension in the room is rising.]
Big Dick: And, let me tell you something else, boys. We're leaving a lot of money on the table. They'll pay more than this buck-and-a-half crap we've been offering. Buck-and-a-half! Chicken feed! I mean, what the hell? Are we running a f**king charity organization?
[Much chortling and guffawing.]
Ken Lay [timidly]: Good one, Dick.
Big Dick: Shut up. The point is, people will pay more --3, 4 bucks a gallon! They'll bitch about it, but they'll pay it. So maybe they'll have to give up their kid's college fund or flip a few extra hamburgers. Maybe they'll have to give up their cable tee-vee channels. They'll do it. They've got no choice. They need the gas.
[A stunned silence. Could Big Dick really mean what he's saying?]
Big Dick: Don't get timid on me boys. We've worked long and hard for this day. Now, we've climbed the ladder and the apple is within our reach. I had to call in some serious favors to get that thing in Florida to happen, and, by God, no pussy-ass bulls**t about fairness or duty is gonna get in the way of me getting my due. It'll work. I've got a plan, trust me.
[Everyone drops his gaze...calculating, imagining the power, the wealth...]
Big Dick: Now, look at me boys. Look at me, damn you!
[Big Dick glowers at each of them, one at a time, weighing them, testing them with his daunting visage. He extends his index finger toward each one as he speaks, his voice heavy with menace.]
Big Dick: If any one of you goes soft on me, I will personally hunt you down and gut you. I'll feed your guts to my hunting dogs. I'll find your family and toss 'em out on the street. If any one of you so much as hesitates, by God, I'll do it. Now, I've laid it out for you. This is the way it's gonna be....right?
[A palpable air of breathless tension hangs over them all. You had to give it to Big Dick: he was the only one who would have the guts required to make this thing, this dream, come true. None can brave Big Dick's gaze as he scans the room.]
Big Dick: It's settled then. Let's get to work. Meeting adjourned.