Of all the meaty issues that are going to be served up on the presidential election platter -- health care, Iran, deficits, the future of Social Security, Medicare, immigration, the future of America to name but a few -- it is highly likely that the price of gas will be that platter's main course. For unlike any other issue, this one affects our lives not in the abstract, but in capital letters; not once a month, but nearly every day. And, where one might, through an act of will or self-preservation, hide just about any other issue under the mental rug, the price we pay for a gallon of gas is simply too central, too overwhelming, to be separated from our daily concerns.
As central a focus as the price of gas-at-the-pump is going to be, it is an issue which candidates will address with fatuous finger-pointing, superficial slogans and brainless bromides where tachlis -- Yiddish for "seriousness of purpose" -- should reign supreme. Moreover, most every challenger -- whether running for President, Senate or House of Representatives, will espouse the same simple-minded solution for this utterly complex challenge: "Vote for me! I will lower gas to $2.50 a gallon!" "Vote for me! I will drill everywhere from Butte, Montana to the Beaufort Sea" "Vote for Me! I will free America from its dependence on Arab oil!"
Sorry fans, but it ain't gonna happen. Candidate who suggest that utter complexity can be parsed through sheer simplicity are charlatans; voters who buy into that simplicity are to be pitied.
And so, in keeping with the old adage "To be forewarned is to be forearmed," we present a little quiz about oil, energy independence and the price of gas . . .
1. The world's largest producer of oil is:
A. Saudi Arabia
C. United States
The correct answer is D, Russia. The next four, in order of production output are Saudi Arabia, United States, Iran and China.
2. The largest single foreign source of American oil comes from:
C. Saudi Arabia