Crank of the Week - August 25, 2008 - Harry Reid

We have our first two time Crank of the Week winner: Senator Harry Reid. The befuddled and bombastic Senate Majority Leader has managed to sum up the cause of all human conflict in one word—OIL! That's right, crude is evidently the cause of all evil. “The history of the last hundred years has been a toxic mix of oil and war,” proclaimed Reid. In remarks delivered to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Reid went on at length:

“Wars were funded by, impossible without, and usually fought over oil. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the Nazi invasion of Russia, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and countless other conflicts have been based in whole or in part on the world's addiction to oil. Even today, dictators and authoritarians from Venezuela to Russia, from Sudan to North Korea, base their actions—and their power to oppress their citizens and threaten their neighbors—solely on access to or sale of oil on the world market.”

The Senator from Nevada seems to be conveniently forgetting the thousands of wars, both big and small, that humankind has fought since the dawn of recorded history. We suppose that the Hittites and Romans fought over lamp oil or access to fire wood using this warped logic. Clearly people have waged war over the availability of natural resources, starting with hunting grounds, water rights and farm land. Over the ages, we have happily slaughtered each other over differences in religion, language, skin color, and governmental systems. Humans have never been at a loss for an excuse to kill each other. Does hapless Harry really believe all the world's current problems are because of oil?

“If we continue to follow this slippery, oil-slicked, downward-winding path, our citizens will shiver in darkness as our resources hemorrhage to Third World thugs whose only virtue is their control of petroleum-based energy,” warned Reid. Of course the reason for this simple minded blather is the looming US election. According to Reid, the path down this slippery slope was caused by the current administration and only the election of a Democrat will lead us to safety. All of this flummery would be amusing except for the fact that Reid is the leader of the Senate and one of the primary figures charged with solving America's energy problem.

Both Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, are of the opinion that fossil fuels are evil. Fine, we aren't that wild about oil and gas, and certainly not coal. But to take the position that we wont need fossil fuels over the next several decades—indeed, we shouldn't even look for additional domestic supplies—is so naive as to verge on delusional. Joining hands and repeating “I think we can,” over and over will not power America's factories, heat America's homes, or power America's planes, trains, and automobiles. Simply saying we will replace fossil fuels with wind and solar in a decade will not make it happen, or even possible (which it isn't).

Reid even quoted T. Boone Pickens saying, "We can't drill our way out of this crisis," as support for the Pollyanna position taken by the Democratic leadership. What Harry neglected to add was the Pickens has also said, “drill, drill, drill.” This is because Pickens, a business man, lives in the real world. He knows that we will continue to need domestic oil and gas and even coal well into the future. The Pickens plan aims at replacing 20% of US generating capacity with wind power, freeing domestically produced natural gas for use in the transportation sector thus freeing the US from a majority of its foreign oil imports. Even this highly optimistic plan wouldn't eliminate the need for large scale use of fossil fuels in the United States. Eventually we will have to replace fossil fuels, that we can't drill our way out of, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't drill until can replace them.

This reality doesn't phase the Majority Leader. “Offshore drilling won't add one drop to our energy pool for at least ten years,” he contends, “the way things are going now, in another ten years we won't need more oil; nobody will be able to afford it.” Aside from being factually wrong, this statement is a self fulfilling prophesy: we shouldn't look for more oil because in the future we won't be able to afford it. Of course it will become more expensive the scarcer it becomes so, for heavens sake, let's not try to find more.

The energy “policy” espoused by Reid and Pelosi, et al. is about as realistic as waiting for the mother ship to beam us all on board. For the sake of the nation and the world, it is time to take energy policy from the hands of left-wing, social engineering lawyers with no concept of economic or scientific reality. We must put someone in charge who understands that the world runs on energy and energy isn't free. To make the transition from fossil fuels to a non-polluting, energy independent future will take ingenuity and hard work—and oil to keep things running until we can reinvent the future.