Monday, February 06, 2006

Bush "did not mean it literally"

In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush said the following:
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
Last Thursday, Bush's Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said that the president did not mean it literally. Bodman said, "This was purely an example."

Bodman explained that the use of technology will reduce the need for oil by 75% of what is currently being imported from the Middle East. So, take the amount of oil being imported today from the Middle East and take 75% of that. That's how much — according to Bodman — that the U.S.'s oil requirements will be reduced. Even though it sounds like Bush said he'd reduce oil imports from the Middle East by 75% (that would be the part where he says, "replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025"), Bodman claims that isn't the case. The U.S. will still need Middle East oil in 2025 because the Middle East produces oil and oil is bought on the open market, thus it's hard to stop the flow of oil into the U.S. from one specific source.

Okay, that makes a certain amount of sense (though, uh, wouldn't it be possible to simply limit the number of ships coming into the U.S. from Middle East ports?). Why didn't the President just say it like that?

According to Bodman, the President wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands."

That sounds like he didn't think the American people would understand it if he just said, "We hope to reduce oil imports by 45% by 2025." (The 45% figure is 75% of 60%.)

But even that isn't what the president said. He said he'd replace (not necessarily reduce) Middle East oil imports by 75%. Since the U.S. imports slightly over 20% of its oil from the Middle East (14.5% from Saudia Arabia, 4% from Iraq, and 1.7% from Kuwait), he could have more clearly said, "We will reduce our need for oil by 15% by 2025," as 75% of 20% is 15%.

Instead, he thought it would be clearer if he said it so that folks implied he's reduce oil from the Middle East by 75%, knowing that most Americans are not sure how much oil is imported from the Middle East.

I first heard about this on The Colbert Report. The liberal-biased media haven't picked up on it; it's letting folks find out from fake news outlets. Well, that's not entirely true, the Kansas City Star has an article on it:

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