Debra J. Saunders

 Bush and the GOP should sign on, but they won't. They're not going to do anything to endanger the Big Three's bottom line.

 But here's what I don't like about Kerry's cheap-gas joy ride:

 Last week, The New York Times rightly editorialized against Democrats who were calling on Bush to dump the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a gimmick to lower gas prices. Selling off the reserve wouldn't dent prices significantly, and it defeats the purpose of the reserve. The editorial noted that "some reservoir of shame" had kept Kerry off the dump-the-oil chorus. By this week, that reservoir was empty. Kerry took the low road, calling for the sale of the reserves, even when he must know it is the wrong thing to do.

 Kerry also has pledged to budget $10 billion over 10 years to help Detroit manufacture more fuel-efficient cars. Becker says he can accept such a plan, if a Kerry White House requires recipients to produce cars with better gas mileage.

 But there's no need for Kerry's corporate welfare, just as there is no need for Bush to grease Detroit with funds for the fabled Freedom Car (as I wrote when the program was unveiled). President Clinton had a similar program, and what were the results? Honda and Toyota introduced breakthrough hybrid-electric cars -- without U.S. taxpayer dollars.

 Kerry said he cares about energy independence, but he opposes drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

 Worst of all: According to the Boston Herald, la famille Kerry owns eight cars (six of them SUVs), a motorcycle, two powerboats and a Gulfstream II jet. Kerry nonetheless told reporters last month that he doesn't own an SUV. ("The family has it; I don't have it.")

 Kerry says he can sell himself better on energy issues to European leaders. But how can he preach conservation anywhere from the helm of such a fleet?

 In a sense, Kerry's plan is the perfect California energy plan: It tells voters they can bash Bush for not doing enough to stop global warming and still drive their SUVs. Californians can demand cheap gas but oppose new oil drilling. Just as long as you say you really, really care about the environment.

Debra J. Saunders

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