Doesn't [Candidate] Care How He's Hurting Working Families?

In between the segments of the talking heads babbling about Michael Phelps and the lingering shots of Shawn Johnson grinning perkily and waving, you get the campaign commercials. And what is practically every campaign commercial about this year? Gas prices. Usually, it's the Republicans - smelling a wedge issue to get their base, Stupid People, into the voting booths with their usual aplomb - saying something along the lines of, "[Democratic Candidate] just doesn't care if gas prices go up to five or even six dollars a gallon - he even voted against new laws that would allow for [name of absurd and idiotic oil exploration plan that won't, in reality, lower gas prices a plugged nickel]. Doesn't [Democratic Candidate] even realize how much he's hurting working families?"

This has, somehow, unbelievably, become the number one issue in the 2008 campaign. Gas prices. American voters care more about paying less to fill their SUVs than they do about ending the war in Iraq, improving the health care system, creating real and reliable sources of renewable energy, improving public education, or anything else. The price of gasoline is more important than all of these.

This is mind-boggling, and simply proves to me that the American public is every bit as stupid as I've always suspected.

Look, y'all, John McCain can bleat "Drill here, drill now!" as much as he likes. The fact is the experts, people who actually understand the economic realities of the situation - and yes, Stupid People, like it or not, there is still such a thing as expert opinion in the world - say that drilling offshore or drilling in ANWR or drilling on top of Mount Goddamn Rushmore won't have any meaningful impact on the price at the pump. That's just the way it is.*

But let's imagine that John McCain bleats his way to the White House on the back of "Drill here, drill now!" and he gets his way and we drill here and drill now. And let's say that somehow, a miracle happens, and through some sort of magic, there's ten times as much oil as even the most optimistic predictions say. The oil flows, the price at the pump comes down, and we're all paying $1.50 a gallon again.

That's great, right?

Sure...for as long as the oil lasts.

The plain and simple fact of the matter is that there is a finite supply of petroleum in the world, and they're not making it anymore. Demand is increasing while supply dwindles. That is a fact, and it is indisputable.

So does it not make sense - given that it is inevitable that we will run out of petroleum (and therefore gasoline, Stupid People, which is made from petroleum) - that we should be thinking more about finding better ways of powering our modern industrial society, and thinking about ways we can use less gasoline than we do now, than to wring our hands and accuse the other candidate of not caring about how high gas prices are affecting working families?

Nope, nope, nope, of course not. Not when you've got a wedge issue and a huge bloc of Incredibly Stupid Voters who think that the gubmint is even capable of lowering the price of gasoline.

* - I should mention, in fairness, that certain Democrats' "plan" of releasing a portion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is equally boneheaded and pointless, as it will have roughly the same effect - i.e., nil - on gas prices.