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RUSH: The New York Times today: ‘Prices at the gasoline pump are rising again, much as they do every spring as oil traders bid up the price of crude ahead of possible summertime shortages. Possibilities for more conflict in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East are adding to the surge. But there is something new this time, energy experts say, in how drivers are reacting – or, more accurately, not reacting, even as the price of gasoline has climbed during the past two months to a national average of more than $2.60 a gallon. Europeans have long forked out more than double what Americans pay. But per gallon costs topping $3 a gallon, or 79 cents per liter, in many parts of the United States, particularly along the Pacific coast, is rare for the U.S. consumer. In the late 1970s, OPEC oil shocks and gas lines persuaded most Americans to sacrifice some of their pleasure trips and drives to the mall, ease up on the accelerator, and switch to the bus or train,’ or go out and buy these tiny little cars that are nothing more than lawn mowers with a couple seats on them. ‘But as Americans enter the sixth year of rising oil and gasoline prices, their shift in driving habits this time has gone through a much less dramatic change. What’s more, in recent weeks, gas consumption is going up, not down, and drivers are changing their daily driving habits only slightly. ‘I don’t think about gas prices at all,’ said Michael Machat, 48, a lawyer in West Los Angeles, where gasoline prices are among the highest in the country. As he filled up his BMW with super unleaded at $3.39 a gallon this week, he added, ‘I guess maybe if it was $10 a gallon, I’d think about it.” (Laughing) Yeah, easy for him to say, he’s driving a Beamer. But look, there’s a reason for this. Why do you think it is that drivers aren’t concerned about it? Gasoline was three dollars a gallon, when? Prior to the election. Then it went down. This was one of the video samples they showed last night at the Media Research Center awards. (It didn’t win an award.) It was Katie Couric, a CBS Evening News report, and some reporter out there was chronicling falling gas prices. That was in the conspiracy category, and they found some dolt driving by at a gas station, they stuck a microphone in his face and this dolt, idiot driver said, ‘Well, you know, these prices are coming down. I have to wonder about this. I wouldn’t put it past the Bush administration to be lowering prices to jump-start the economy right before the election,’ which is patently absurd. Here’s a guy who sees prices are going down. He was probably among the people griping and moaning about it, and when prices are going down, he finds a conspiracy rather than ending up being happy about it. Anyway, when the prices went up last year in the post-Katrina period and after, the Drive-By Media was all over the place, and the Democrats were all over the place. ‘We need a windfall profits tax and we need to bring these Big Oil execs up and we need to have hearings and we need to find out why this is happening. This is outrageous.’ The Drive-Bys are beating this drum day in and day out and getting everybody all agitated, and the difference this time is that the media is not making a big deal of this at all. In a way, it’s very instructive. If the media doesn’t go out there and raise holy hell about something, then it’s obvious that a lot of people aren’t going to be all riled up about it. It also could be that people weren’t riled up about it the first time it happened. The Drive-Bys were trying to create the impression they were, because you can always find malcontents out there. You take a camera and a microphone, and some people in this country will say anything that the reporter wants them to say in order to get on television. That could be a factor, too. But just remember this the next time gasoline prices go up. They’re going to come down. They always do during summertime. You can make book on it. Whatever the price is now, it’s going to be lower in summertime when the peak driving season happens. One of the reasons the price is going up which they didn’t mention in the story, is that the refineries have to take some downtime in the spring and late winter (they calculate this according to the calendar) to retool, to produce more gasoline and the new formulas that are required by the various parts of the country that are not being produced in as great a quantity in the winter because they have to refine some oil into heating oil and other such products. They have to go down and retool the refineries to gear up for more gasoline, and that causes a shortage, a temporary shortage, and that jumps the price a bit as well, but it always comes down from whatever it was in the spring. It always comes down during the summer driving season because that’s when people are out on vacations and so forth, and it just works that way. So they’ll be done a little bit this summer. Let’s just see, the next time they spike up — which will probably be close to the election year — that’s when the Drive-Bys will go batty and start blaming Republicans for it, and Bush policies. Right now there’s no election year, so there’s no sense in wasting time on dredging up all this emotion. Besides, the Democrats are in charge. Democrats are in charge in the House. Democrats are in charge in the Senate, and it’s going to be very much more difficult to lay the blame for all this solely at the feet of the Republicans and the president, George W. Bush. In this New York Times story, get this: ‘Some observers suggest that with more dual-income families, high gas prices mean less to many families than they once did, and the proliferation of credit cards has eased the immediate pain of consumers at the pump.’ Now, this is totally irresponsible journalism on the part of Christopher Knittel at the New York Times. If this is the case today, then it was the case two years ago and a year-and-a-half ago when gasoline prices were ‘skyrocketing.’ Two-income families are not new. Two income families can be traced back to the seventies and the eighties, and the largest reason for the need for two income families, sad to say, is high taxes, more than anything else. Credit cards aren’t new. So why wouldn’t the New York Times and the rest of the Drive-Bys write this story a year and a half ago when gasoline prices were spiking upward? Write, ‘Weeeeell, it’s not that big a deal to people. The price impact is not that great. Why, no! We have dual income families out there. It doesn’t mean as much.’ We made this point on this program in terms of real dollars. When gasoline peaked at whatever it was over three dollars, it still wasn’t as proportionally high as it was 20 years ago in terms of the impact on the average family budget. So this story in the New York Times, to me, is proof positive that news is not news. It’s packaged according to an agenda, and it is used to manipulate public opinion. It is not to inform people as to what’s going on. Because this same reasoning to explain high prices today and why nobody cares, could have been said a year and a half ago.

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