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Dems blast Bush for high gas prices
Democrats say White House is controlled by big oil companies as gas prices soar to all-time highs.
May 18, 2004: 7:18 PM EDT
By Wayne Drash, CNN news editor

ATLANTA (CNN) - With gas prices at a record high, Democrats Tuesday poured fuel on the debate over the soaring prices, accusing the Bush administration of failing to stabilize the market ahead of the summer vacation season.

Speaking at a Washington event, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe held up a gas can -- with the label "Can Bush" on it -- and said, "It is now time to can Bush."

"The Bush administration is in the pocket of big oil, and it is hurting Americans in the pocketbook," McAuliffe said. "They are so deep in the pocket of big oil, we need to drill down just to find them."

In Portland, Ore., presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry said, "We need a president who's fighting for the American worker, the American family at the fuel pumps to lower the price of gasoline in the United States."

Ten Democratic governors sent a joint letter to Bush Tuesday, saying the administration has "fallen short" on resolving the rising prices, "let alone addressing the concerns of American consumers."

"We strongly encourage you to direct the Department of Energy to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the entire gasoline pricing structure, the profits currently enjoyed by the industry and the cost being passed on to consumers," the letter says. It was signed by the governors of Arizona, Iowa, West Virginia, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maine.

The intensified criticism of the administration comes on the heels of a government report that said gas prices were at an all-time high, averaging $2.01 a gallon nationwide for regular unleaded -- up 52 cents from a year ago, and up 7.6 cents from just a week ago.

At one gas station in Menlo Park, Calif., a sign advertises a gallon of regular gas for $2.33. Those who want "plus" or "premium," the sign says, will have to pay an "arm" and a "leg."

On a poll, 54 percent of respondents said rising gas prices are affecting their Memorial Day plans. More than 28,000 people cast votes in the unscientific online poll.

Those results were in contrast with a AAA survey, which found that 30.9 million travelers, up 3.4 percent from last year, will drive 50 miles or more by car this Memorial Day weekend.

Oil and Gas
John F. Kerry
Department of Energy

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan sought to blame Congress for not passing a comprehensive energy plan, resulting in higher prices at the pump.

"The reason we are in this situation is because we are dependent upon foreign sources of energy. The reason we are in this situation is because there has been years of inaction," McClellan said. "This president has called on Congress to act, and that's what Congress needs to do so that we don't continue to go through this issue year after year."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., called it "laughable" that Republicans were blaming Democrats in Congress for not passing the energy bill since the GOP controls both houses.

"I find it absolutely laughable that the Republican majority would blame the minority for their inability to pass a bill. They're in control," Daschle told reporters. "If they can't get the job done, I ask them to turn it over to somebody who can."

Of Bush, Daschle said, "He's been silent on the issue. He's been unengaged and showing absolutely no leadership. And I think it's critical that he do so as we go into the busiest and most troubling time of the year from a price perspective."  Top of page

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