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Commentary By Robert Bryce

Jon Stewart Vivisects “Energy Independence”

We live in the age of video. As a writer, particularly one who writes books, that fact is rather painful. But the reality is that television, and increasingly, video on the Internet — think YouTube, Hulu, etc. — is the dominant medium of our time.

In my third book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence,” I took 291 pages to examine nearly every aspect of America’s interdependence with the global market in everything from crude oil to chromium. I looked at the history of US oil production, the myriad outrages of the corn ethanol scam, and discussed how the increasing integration of the global market would likely thwart America’s efforts to isolate Iran. (For more on the failure to isolate Iran, see Andres Cala’s piece from June 16.)

And while I’m still proud of Gusher, I am chastened. No matter how I might try, I can’t compete with Comedy Central and Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.” In less than eight minutes, this video by Stewart is more effective at destroying the notion of “energy independence” than I was in an entire book. And he does it with so much glee and style that I’m left more than a little envious. The segment is hilarious. And the hilarity comes naturally as it uses video clips from the last eight presidents, showing how each one has been bold in their promises to rid the US of its “addiction” to oil. Jimmy Carter wanted to use solar energy. Gerald Ford talked about coal. George W. Bush hyped the merits of cellulosic ethanol. And then there’s President Barack Obama, who, alas, used the phrase “energy independence” during his recent Oval Office speech.

The funniest line in Stewart’s video comes at about the 3:48 mark. After showing clips of every president since Nixon talking about the dangers of foreign oil and the need to become energy independent, Stewart says “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me eight I a fucking idiot? I must be an idiot.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, may be the single best comment I’ve heard about the dire poverty of our energy discussions in this country. America desperately needs someone in the corridors of power who will speak honestly about the essentiality of hydrocarbons to the global economy. The country needs someone who will point out that -- love it or hate it -- there are no viable replacements for crude oil. Alas, until we get a leader who will dare to utter such truths, our politicians will continue treating us like idiots.

This piece originally appeared in Energy Tribune

This piece originally appeared in Energy Tribune