Thursday, August 25, 2005

Slow News Day

The Associated Press, with an unerring sense for the meaningless, just couldn't help themselves from a little enviro-gas price-Bush bashing.

Getting President Bush from here to there consumes an enormous amount of fuel, whether he's aboard Air Force One, riding in a helicopter or on the ground in a heavily armored limousine. The bill gets steeper every day as the White House is rocked by the same energy prices as regular drivers. Taxpayers still foot the bill.

About the only vehicle Bush has much say in is the 2001 white Ford F250 pickup he keeps on his ranch. At the nationwide gasoline average of $2.61 a gallon, it would cost at least $75 to fill the Ford's tank. The 1999 four-wheel-drive model gets 13 miles per gallon in the city, 17 on the highway, according to an Energy Department Web site,
http://www.fueleconomy.gov .

The motorcade generally doesn't cruise placidly at fuel-efficient speeds, but rather hurries along its route as fast as possible. It also often idles outside while Bush is at an event, burning up fuel but ready to depart at a moment's notice.

The president's limos alone consume lots of gas. Starting with his inaugural in January, Bush began tooling around in new 2006 Cadillac DTS limos. The full-sized luxury sedan version, available to the general public, has an 18-gallon tank that would cost about $47 to fill at that $2.61- a-gallon rate. (White House vehicles are fueled at a special, dedicated facility and the price paid per gallon there is not released.) Cadillac spokesman Kevin Smith said the Cadillac DTS sedan gets 18 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway.

The vehicle Bush uses is a much different animal _ with different gas mileage. An outside company customizes the DTS for presidential use by "stretching" it to limo length, adding bulletproof glass, heavy armor and other bells and whistles _ all making it significantly heavier and less fuel-efficient, Smith said.

The same thing for the Chevrolet Suburbans that are sometimes used as limo substitutes. The mass-marketed 2005 K1500 Suburban would cost nearly $81 to fill up with its large 31-gallon tank. It gets 15 mpg in the city, 19 on the highway, according to
http://www.fueleconomy.gov . But it's not clear exactly which trim model of Suburban Bush uses, and his are custom-fitted with extra gear that would reduce the gas mileage. In the air, Bush most often flies on a Boeing 747-200B laden with, among other things, an anti-missile system. Like gas for cars, fuel costs for the largest plane in the Air Force One fleet have gone up dramatically _ from $3,974 an hour in fiscal 2004 to $6,029 per hour now, according to the Air Force.

Reducing his appearances outside the White House and making other gestures toward fuel conservation could help cut down on costs.

So the AP thinks President Bush should fly commercial? Or maybe he can buy a Prius and drive himself? I am only surprised the story didn't start like this: Getting President Bush from here to there consumes an enormous amount of fuel, whether he's aboard Air Force One, riding in a helicopter or on the ground in a heavily armored limousine. The bill gets steeper every day as the White House is rocked by the same energy prices as regular drivers. Taxpayers still foot the bill. Among those taxpayers is Cindy Sheehan, protesting in front of Bush's Crawford ranch after losing a son in Iraq...

Now here is a story that wasn't reported in 1997, largely because the press has little use for irony.

"The most vulnerable part of the Earth's environment is the very thin layer of air clinging near to the surface of the planet, that we are now so carelessly filling with gaseous wastes that we are actually altering the relationship between the Earth and the Sun - by trapping more solar radiation under this growing blanket of pollution that envelops the entire world," Vice President Gore told the U.N. Global Warming conference of 159 nations this morning in Kyoto, Japan.

The message is serious. So serious in fact, the DRUDGE REPORT has calculated that Vice President Al Gore is burning more than 439,500 pounds of fuel, or 65,600 gallons, at a cost of more than $131,000 on his 16,000 mile trip, just to deliver the warning.


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