Oil can make you laugh - a little

Maureen DowdNew York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (on right) continues to tweak the powerful in a most amusing manner.

I can still remember how this so-called "Eastern Establishment Liberal" was one of the most effective thorns in Bill Clinton's ego during the "Monica Monologues", but today she's being queried by the Saudi Ambassador. It's well worth the minute it takes to register and read the whole column, but here's a taste:

NY TimesOilman Plays Ozone Man
By MAUREEN DOWD, WASHINGTON

The Saudi ambassador summoned me to the embassy on Thursday, across the street from the Watergate.

He wanted to know if Americans were still addicted to oil.

I assured him we were.

The Prince with friendsPrince Turki al-Faisal (in the middle on left), the charming new envoy from the royal family, was confused about W.'s suddenly morphing into Ozone Man, as Poppy Bush called Al Gore in '92. At the State of the Union address at the Capitol Tuesday night, the prince watched with chagrin as the ex-Texas oilman urged breaking our dependence by replacing most Mideast oil imports with wood chips and ethanol, a word usually heard only quadrennially when pols pander during the Iowa caucuses.

The prince, dressed in long white robe and checkered headdress, explained that last fall, when Condi Rice was in Jidda, the Saudis and the U.S. launched a "strategic dialogue," which included a promise by the Saudis to pump more oil. And now the president promises that the U.S. will need less oil.

Which way are the desert winds blowing?

I told the prince it was politics. W. is just mouthing conservation arguments to offset Americans' disgust at the obscene profits of Exxon Mobil and Halliburton, high gas prices and a conflict in Iraq that Rummy now gallingly dubs "the long war." Shouldn't it be "the wrong war"? (Halliburton never gets punished for bilking the Pentagon. The Army just awarded the company a $385 million contract to build detention centers for the Department of Homeland Security.)

Bush presidents, I told Prince Turki, sometimes say things without realizing that they are expected to act on their words. I expressed some doubt that the Duke of Halliburton, who dismissed conservation as a "personal virtue," would let W. go all "Earth in the Balance." It's not easy being green with smoggy Dick keeping a gimlet eye on you. The Saudi ambassador said he liked the vice president...

Read the rest of this NY Times Op Ed piece here, and comment below.

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