The L.A. Times has an amusingly Michael Moore-esque story in the Business section today, designed to neutralize the boost Republicans might get over the lower prices we’re seeing at the gas pump.
How do you spin that against Republicans, you ask? By discussing the perception that it’s a conspiracy!
Today’s article is titled Lower pump prices fuel political conspiracy theories, with a deck headline reading: “Many Americans think the recent drop is tied to the Bush administration and GOP election hopes.” The lede sentence reads:
Filling the tank of his Honda Accord, Daniel Carmolinga eyed the blinking numbers on the gasoline pump with a mixture of relief and suspicion — relief that the total was significantly lower than it would have been a few months ago, but suspicion that Tuesday’s election might have something to do with it.
The article actually goes into Michael Moore territory, mentioning those dark ties between the Bushes and the Saudi oil barons:
How would they pull off a fuel-price drop? Bush’s stance on Iran and other foreign policy matters can certainly move oil markets, and so can decisions affecting the oil levels in the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And there is the Bush family’s close relationship with the royal family of Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer and the most powerful member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Don’t forget the Halliburton connection:
Skeptics also focus on the oil companies, a group that has strong ties to the White House and donates heavily to Republicans. The companies also make daily decisions that can influence markets and pump prices, including adjustments involving inventories, production, imports, exports, trading and wholesale pricing.
And the article remembers to mention the idea that cronies from Goldman Sachs are manipulating the market:
Another theory holds that nontraditional energy futures investors — those who are looking for profits rather than a barrel of oil — intentionally throttled back their activity on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The presumption is that they did so to send prices for oil and gasoline tumbling so congressional control wouldn’t shift to Democrats, some of whom favor reining in hedge funds and other speculators that have made energy markets more volatile.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which runs a widely tracked commodities index, reinforced suspicions in August by sharply cutting the gasoline portion of the index, causing the fuel’s futures prices to plunge. Bush’s Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., was chief executive at Goldman Sachs before taking his current post.
Of course. It’s so obvious. How did we not see it befo’?
What are the real reasons behind the falling prices? A USA Today story — that’s right; USA Today is focusing on facts while the L.A. Times focuses on conspiracies! — had the following explanations for lower gas prices:
•The end of summer. Driving slows, reducing demand for gasoline. And federal requirements for clean air, summer-blend gasoline end next month, making gasoline cheaper to refine and import.
•Sluggish demand. Gasoline use in the first eight months of the year is up 1% vs. a year ago, less than the 1.5% to 2% growth that’s typical, says Michael Morris, analyst at the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Wholesalers are trying to get rid of product. The growth in demand for gasoline has really tapered off,” he says.
Wholesale prices are falling faster than retail gasoline prices, meaning stations are making more money than when prices were $3. Wholesale prices Tuesday ranged from $1.77 to $1.79 a gallon, well below the $2-plus prices typical until recently.
•Petroleum traders, worried that prices are too high to last [or carrying out an evil plot to help cronies in the Bush Administration! — Patterico], are selling their holdings. That pushes prices down. They also believe hurricanes won’t disrupt Gulf of Mexico production, OPIS senior analyst Tom Kloza says.
Crude oil, which accounts for roughly half the price of gasoline, ended New York trading Tuesday down 90 cents, at $69.71 a barrel. That’s the first time it’s closed at less than $70 since May 4.
BO-RING!! Why rely on the facts when you can float conspiracy theories?
The only time the L.A. Times story hints at these factual, non-conspiratiorial explanations is when it quotes defensive-sounding statements from people like Dick “Halliburton” Cheney. Meanwhile, the “experts” in the story recommend suspicion — and lots of it.
When you and I want to help the Republican party, we volunteer to make phone calls to get out the vote. When L.A. Times editors want to help the Democrats, they just run stories like these.
It must be nice to have that kind of power. I wonder how long they’ll keep it.
P.S. Another attempt by the paper to sour the public on good news for the GOP is discussed immediately below.