John Andrews

Where is “Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson when we need him? Two prehistoric inventors stand before the tribal elders, beaming proudly. Og has discovered fire, and Zor has invented the wheel. But the ruling Democrats turn thumbs down. “Begone,” they order. “No good will come of those things.”

I exaggerate, of course. The elders would decree taxes and regulation, not a ban. Dems aren’t cavemen, after all. Yet if you follow the logic of liberals like Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, we’re headed for a future with less fire and fewer wheels. Their distaste for the obvious energy sources that keep America rolling and the lights on is that intense.

Following a sweaty commute on Gov. Ritter’s bike-to-work plan, you can spend the day in one of Denver Mayor Hickenlooper’s minimally air-conditioned office buildings. After dining at ethanol-inflated food prices that evening, you can join our green leaders in one of their voluntary switchoffs, a darken-the-city display of pity for the planet.

That’s the sacrificial approach, the future as guilt trip. Barack Obama has warned: “We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times, and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.” As this summer's loyal convention host for Obama, Ritter is in a sweat himself over those bad ol’ fossil fuels. Let’s count the ways:

With gas prices at $4 and climbing, the governor wants a huge tax increase on Colorado oil and gas production. That’s one. His Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is set to impose new rules that will make it even harder to get energy out of the ground. That’s two. And he’s saying no, in concert with Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar and Senate candidate Mark Udall, to developing our oil shale. That’s three, an energy policy strikeout.

Everyone knows the alternative-energy litany. “Wind, solar, biomass, hydro,” we chant. “Fuel cells, perpetual motion, Kryptonite,” we add in hope of an extra indulgence from the Gaia priests. I have nothing against all that stuff (though I’ve sometimes rooted for Lex Luthor against Superman). It’s simply a matter of cost-benefit and timelines. That stuff is tomorrow, whereas oil and gas – and nuclear, which Ritter waffled about on "Meet the Press" last week – are today, if Colorado keeps its backbone.

John Andrews

John Andrews is former president of the Colorado Senate and the author of "Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century"