A Red/Blue imbroglio: one cheats, the other freaks

Red State/ Blue State • DAVE SIMPSON & GREG BEAN

Dear Greg:

Not far up the interstate from where I live, in a little town you’ve driven through hundreds of times, gasoline was selling for $1.39 a gallon last weekend. Pretty cool, huh?

When I heard that, I thought about Peggy Joseph, the woman who was delirious on election night, saying she doesn’t have to worry about putting gas in her car or making her mortgage payments anymore, now that Barack Obama has been elected president.

I commented on that in a recent Red/Blue, but you rapped my knuckles for mentioning Peggy, claiming that I knew what she meant. You darned me with faint praise, you old rascal, claiming I knew all along that she meant Obama will care a lot more about things like the cost of gasoline and mortgage payments than Beelzebub W. Bush, who is on his way out of office.

(Speaking of President Beelzebub, if we’d had that rule about knowing what people meant instead of what they actually said, George Bush would have made a lot more sense over the last eight years. But, as George would say, that’s water under the dam now.)

So anyway, when I heard that gasoline was selling for $1.39 a gallon, I figured Barack Obama is one effective presidentelect, because he hasn’t even been sworn in yet, and somehow he’s already beaten the greedy oil companies into submission, tamed the Middle Eastern oil pooh-bahs, and has the marketplace doing tricks on command.

Of course, there is that other possible explanation, Greg, that tired old “supply and demand” stuff most of us learned about in high school. It’s more fun to think that it takes a superhero to make gasoline prices come down, but it had a lot more to do with people deciding they couldn’t afford to pay $4 for a gallon of gasoline, driving less, and supply overwhelming demand.

That’s not as much fun as cracking down on ExxonMobil for its scandalous 8- to 10-percent profits, hazing oil company execs, and slapping a tax on “shameless” profits. Of course, nobody ever explains why raising taxes will result in more gasoline, but we apparently want to see someone punished more than we want cheap fuel.

If you ask me, Greg, Peggy Joseph has a much better friend in the free market than she has in Barack Obama, or those clowns in Congress who have done so much for housing. The free market made it easier to put gas in her car, not the president-elect. In fact, most of the stuff Obama wants to do will just screw up the free market that made gasoline so much more affordable.

It’s as clear as the price on the pump, old pal.

With kindest regards,

Red State Dave d_simpson@bresnan.net

Dear Dave:

You know, old friend, you’re really starting to creep me out a little bit. Have you planted some spyware in my computer or

something? Are you paying some out-of-work mortgage broker to peer in my office window to see what I’m writing on my computer and then send you a real-time text message so you can tweak me proactively? Are you engaging in industrial espionage, old buddy? I’m not paranoid by nature, but I find myself looking over my shoulder constantly, and if you’re doing something to make me feel this way, I wish you’d knock it off. Here’s

what happened most recently to make me feel like I’m being watched.

I had just finished writing my regular column for this week, in which I mentioned lower gas prices and noted that the lower prices these days are just proof that the market economy works. I also noted that we shouldn’t feel sorry for companies like ExxonMobil, because they’ve made so much money in the last few years they could have funded out of their spare change the entire $700 billion bailout package we taxpayers will get stuck with.

But even so, there I was sounding like a “conservative” on this issue and feeling pretty good about it. Then, about an hour after I filed that column, an e-mail arrived from you with your part of this week’s Red State Blue State, and what were you talking about?

Lower gas prices, and your opinion that those prices are proof that the free market economy works!

Golly, is it any wonder I’m feeling like an egg-sucking dog in the chicken coop, skeered witless that the old guy with the shotgun can see everything I do?

I was in a no-win situation, Dave, and you put me there. I could spike my column and write another one saying something different, like maybe President-elect Obama is responsible for falling gas prices after all. I could write my part of our Red/Blue discussion saying that even a blind hog finds a truffle now and then, so I shouldn’t be surprised we occasionally agree on something. (Note how I’m not saying which of us I think is the blind hog?)

Or I could do the reasonable thing and have my Russian chauffeurs, Peekupp and Dropov (they also work for the “Car Talk” guys), take me down to the office of my bloodthirsty attorneys, Slipp, Phal and Sioux, where we could file a cease-and-desist order against you and threaten you with a lawsuit if you keep this up. Fair warning, old buddy: If you force me to go the legal route, I’ll be coming after your ExxonMobil stock, the fixer-upper house you’re working on, and the sexy little pickup your wife picked out for you to replace your beige minivan.

All I have to do is sign the paperwork, and you’re toast. But since you’ve got that guy looking in my office window, you already know that.

Your fed-up friend,

Blue State Greg gbean@gmnews.com