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FOX News Pundit’s Solution For High Gas Prices: Get A Bike

Reported by Ellen - May 4, 2006

FOX News conservatives love to paint themselves as representing the heartland of America. Last night’s (5/3/06) discussion on Hannity & Colmes about high gas prices proved just how out of touch Sean Hannity and FOX News business contributor Jonathan Hoenig really are.

Alan Colmes started the discussion by reading statistics. “In 1999, refiners made 22.8 cents for every gallon of gasoline, then it went up to 40.8 a couple of years later and in 2005, it’s 47.7 cents. They’re making more money on each gallon.” Colmes didn’t mention that the oil companies are not just making more money, they’re making record profits.

Hoenig, who is aptly employed by a company called “Capitalist Pig Asset Management,” claimed we shouldn’t blame the companies. According to Hoenig, the “real gougers” are the government and “environmental activists” (for taxing and preventing greater supply, respectively). “Gouging doesn’t exist,” Hoenig said. “Listen, you don’t have to buy gas. Get a bike. Get a smaller car. The oil companies offer a voluntary trade of which you can accept or not.”

Colmes responded, “It’s pretty arrogant to say to people who have to work for a living and have to use transportation, ‘Go get a bike. Gouging’s fine.’ That’s very arrogant.”

It’s not just arrogant, it’s clueless. For one thing, there are plenty of people who live beyond biking distance from their jobs and in areas without adequate public transportation. Second, high oil prices do not just affect the cost of getting around. They affect the cost of airlines, trucking and other industries which go to the very fabric of the American economy. When the prices of oranges and cereal and meat go through the roof at Hoenig’s local supermarket, perhaps we should all email him and tell him to start a farm on his terrace.

Hoenig continued in what he obviously thought was very clever banter. “Gouging is whatever Chuck Schumer decides he wants to have a press conference… How come liberals can have every wage in the world can go up but prices always have to stay the same?”

The other guest was Tyson Slocum from the Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Slocum noted that “Republicans have received 81% of the 58 million dollars in campaign contributions from the oil industry – they’re still doing the oil companies’ bidding.”

That was too much for Sean Hannity. As he always does when the facts don’t go his way, he started bullying. In his condescending, bullyboy tone, Hannity interrupted Slocum. “Hey, Tyson, stop with the smear. That has nothing to do with the issue.” Hannity went on to make the dubious claim that the government makes about 50 cents a gallon whereas the oil companies get only about 8 cents in profits. (See, for example, Media Matters' report, with links to the American Petroleum Institute, that federal tax on gasoline is set at 18.4 cents per gallon)

For Hannity, it’s never a smear when liberals are under attack. Hannity said, “I say blame a liberal. Because for 30 years we’ve had Democrats, beholden to extreme environmentalists… I say blame Chuck Schumer and blame liberal Democrats and 30 years of extremism on the environment.”

Hannity can blame liberals all he likes. But the poll numbers say the public isn’t buying it. A recent USA Today/Gallup Poll shows the vast majority of Americans are angry about gas prices and the top two objects of their anger are the oil companies and President Bush. The vast majority think the government should do something about the problem and they don’t approve of what President Bush has done. When asked whether Republicans or Democrats are more likely to keep gas prices low, 20% say Republicans, 47% say Democrats.

Hoenig smeared some more, without objection from Hannity. “We’re turning into Bolivia where, essentially, guys like Slocum want the oil companies nationalized.”

“Liberals can ride the bike,” Hannity said.

“Get a Schwinn,” Hoenig said.

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