(CNN)–It’s impossible these days to put the nozzle of a gas pump into your car without wondering just how deeply into our wallets the attached hose goes. With each increasingly precious drop of fuel, it seems, we are sucking the life out of the engine of the American economy. How serious might it get? Listen to the words of Congressman John Peterson (R-Pennsylvania), who says the crisis over oil prices “is more important and threatening to America’s future than terrorism.”
I asked the Congressman about that on today’s American Morning program. He contends that high oil prices are destroying the middle class and that there is no urgency in Washington to do anything about it. In much the same way that the early warning signs about Al-Qaeda were ignored while terrorists infiltrated American society, Peterson believes elected officials are standing by as the insidious effects of rising oil prices are eroding the very foundation of our prosperity. And in the same way that America launched a global war on terror, Peterson believes a similar mobilization effort must be taken to drastically reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Many people have talked about the need for the energy equivalent of a “moon-shot,” or Manhattan Project-style effort to render the fossil fuel-based economy obsolete. While nothing of the sort has so far happened, Peterson is hoping to build a bi-partisan coalition in the House to at least take some kind of action. This morning, he talked to me about tax breaks to help Americans become more energy efficient (to get rid of old cars and old furnaces), increased funding for renewable fuels and a new push to tap vast reserves of shale oil in the west.
And – somewhat surprising for a Republican – he doesn’t want to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He feels it’s politically radioactive, so why bother wasting time fighting that battle?
(CNN) - Just when you think you’ve heard everything in this race for the White House, along comes something truly surprising. Such was the case on Thursday's American Morning. I was speaking with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney about Sen. John McCain's new line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama. McCain hopes to paint Obama as a politician who puts party and self-interest above the needs of the nation, claiming that the Illinois senator has “never been a part of a bipartisan group that came together to solve a controversial issue”.
This morning, Romney faithfully repeated that charge. When I pointed out that Obama reached across party lines to work with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, on a non-proliferation measure, and with Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, on increasing gas mileage requirements, Romney shot back, saying that “Actually, on both cases, you’re talking about two liberal positions, non-proliferation as well as the gasoline mileage."
Watch: Romney attacks Obama
It struck me as rather odd – having covered five years of the Bush administration as a White House correspondent – that the governor would view non-proliferation as a “liberal” issue. I seem to recall a little ditty called the “Proliferation Security Initiative,” launched by President Bush on May 31, 2003. The aim of the initiative is to enlist the nations of the world to “stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern.” Whether the program is a success is very much in question (though the administration claims it is), but I’ve never heard anyone call it a “liberal” position.
(CNN) - If the corpulent lass hasn’t ululated her first note yet, she is only a few hours away from the performance - at least that’s what Democratic strategist Joe Trippi believes. The man who engineered Howard Dean’s ascension through the party ranks and advised John Edwards during his primary run earlier this year thinks that by the time the speeches are over on Tuesday night, Barack Obama may be over the finish line.
To get there – at the moment I am writing this – he needs 48 delegates. He’ll likely come away from Montana and South Dakota with an additional 10-15, and he’ll probably get a few more of the delegates that are currently pledged to John Edwards. Which means he only needs somewhere around 30 uncommitted superdelegates to come to his side, and he’s across the finish line.
Will it happen by Tuesday night? I’m not so sure. We’ve been talking to supers along the way, and many of them seem to prefer to wait until it’s all over to announce their support. Donna Brazile told us yesterday on CNN’s Election Center that “Wednesday is a new day. Tuesday’s not a new day. Wednesday is.” In recognition of Hillary Clinton’s history-making campaign, they may just wait until the final two contests are over.