Paul Jacob

To allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or not? It is an easy question for Senator John F. Kerry . . . because he's magic!

Magic in what way, you ask? Perhaps you fail to understand the wonders that Mr. Kerry would have performed had he been elected president last fall. For starters, America would probably already be energy independent under a President Kerry.

If you're having trouble accepting this, don't fret. You're probably just not attune to wizardly ways. Perhaps you don't believe in magic. You might have some distrust of Washington politicians. For goodness' sake, you could even be so suspicious of power that you support the system that the powerful almost always oppose, free enterprise.

To Kerry and his fellow wizards and magicians, that means you're a muggle.

What does all this talk of wizards and muggles have to do with drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Plenty. Kerry has helped lead the fight against drilling in ANWR because he has a better solution.

Many who support drilling think of ANWR as a much better place to drill than off the coast of California or Florida or in downtown Manhattan or in your back yard. But in a column for Outside Magazine, Kerry writes, "Like many incomparable treasures of the West, ANWR sounds desolate, uninhabited." That could be because ANWR is 19 million acres and very few people live there or anywhere close.

But Kerry points out there are caribou and bears and birds there. "The environmental risks of drilling in ANWR are devastating," he says. Now I know you're thinking that the caribou have been cited before as a species that would be hurt by oil drilling and the pipeline. And that hurt hasn't materialized . . . despite a very big pipeline bisecting the Last Frontier.

Still, when those with a crystal ball warn something is risky, who are we to argue?

On Kerry's Senate website he points to yet another reason to bar drilling in ANWR, arguing that drilling could ruin "the opportunity for local residents to continue their subsistence way of life." Wizards or not, Democrats are always big on maintaining subsistence living.

Kerry pooh-poohs the oil under the snow of Alaska's Northeastern coastal plain. It is hardly a six-month supply, and would likely only reduce our use of imported oil by about three percentage points. And, if there were to be some even more terrible chaos in the Middle East, what good would it be to have a six-month supply of oil at the ready? C'mon, really.

Even the oil companies admit that it will take seven to ten years before they can start pumping out the oil. Again, non-magical folks like those in the current administration and the muggles running oil companies can't just snap their fingers and make the oil appear at the pump. If Kerry were president, he could wave his wand and make that oil appear immediately or, better yet in his view, never appear at all.

Which brings us to the main reason Kerry opposes oil drilling in ANWR. Silly ol' President Bush thinks that our need for foreign oil might be lessened if we were to have this additional 3.2 billion barrels of crude at home. Seems simple enough, but it is too simplistic. It presupposes that we'll still be an oil-based economy next month, next year, even ten years from now.

You see, Kerry has a better plan: Let's invent something spectacular to replace oil completely! Something that never causes any environmental concerns. A perfect energy source.

"We can't drill our way to energy independence," Kerry tells us. "We have to invent our way there, by harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit that made our country great."

By "harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit" Kerry doesn't mean what, say, I mean when I write about it in my Common Sense e-letter. Nope, he means grabbing lots of tax dollars and giving those dollars to politically favored scientists and inventors (and, sssshhh, big corporations, too, for their research and development departments) so that they can find this new magical energy source. Then, all our energy problems will be solved.

This seems so much better for us energy-consuming muggles than to make energy suppliers do research on their own nickel. Better to let the government do it, with our money. Perhaps they can call the program something catchy, like "Leave No Scheme for a Magical Energy Solution Behind."

The best part would be if this new energy source could even make it possible for Kerry to keep driving the SUVs he owns — er, his family owns. He doesn't own them.

Enough of big oil. Let's opt for magic from John F. Kerry and the wizards in Washington, let's spend a few extra trillion on new, perfect technology. Then — hocus, pocus — in a week or two, that silly ol' oil-based economy will be a thing of the past.

Now, why didn't we think of that?


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.