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Olbermann, Post Columnist Mock GOP House Energy Protest

     It’s probably par for the course with this duo, but liberal MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson rejected the view that the Republican congressional protest was having any impact.


     The August 7 “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” dedicated an entire segment to the protest – more than many other shows on the cable networks have. However, the segment ridiculed efforts by House Republicans to draw attention to Democrats’ inaction on drilling.


     “Crude oil has been dropping for a month now and the GOP actually credited themselves and their protest for that fact, rather than, you know, the Democratic crackdown on speculators or this, the economists’ idea that, ‘Hey guess what, this is an illustration that consumers will eventually stop buying anything that costs too much,’” Olbermann said. “And, whatever the actual answer is – are they still helping the drilling cause by saying this when all the evidence suggests it's some other reason or are they underscoring the holes in drilling by bringing attention to it?”


     Robinson agreed with Olbermann’s leading question that the House GOP has had no impact on the price of oil.


     “Well I think nobody pays attention to that,” Robinson said. “Clearly nobody’s going to believe that their protests brought down oil prices. I think if you’re going to believe anybody – believe the numbers. I mean U.S. demand is down and if you believe that the, that the price is set at the margins, then that had the impact or whatever. But I don’t think anybody’s going to take that seriously.”


      But the numbers do show perception can lower oil prices and suggesting that the House actions have not had any impact on the price of oil isn’t necessarily correct. Although oil rose for the first time in four days of trading to close just above $120 a barrel on August 7, the commodity has dropped significantly since its record high of $147 on July 11.


      And recent history shows political action can have an impact on the price of oil. The biggest drop, a fall of $9 a barrel, came immediately after President George W. Bush removed an executive moratorium on offshore drilling on July 15.


     Another strong statement came from House Minority Whip Roy Blount, R-Mo. He told Cybercast News Service on August 7 Bush should veto any bill extending the moratorium on offshore oil-drilling leases now set to end September 30.


     “The market is responding to the fact that we are here talking,” Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) said to Politico on August 5. “I think the market realizes that this kind of pressure may in fact lead to a change in policy.”


     Olbermann and Robinson also remarked on former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s appearance at the GOP protest.


     “There was another issue here – that the Republicans actually brought in Newt Gingrich yesterday, some sort of old-timer’s day at Congress – to threaten a possible government shutdown if Nancy Pelosi does not let them vote on the offshore drilling,” Olbermann said. “But part one here – does the Bush government actually do anything more that could be shut down or we need to worry about shutting down? And part two, what happened to the GOP the last time that Newt Gingrich came in and shut down the government?”


      “Well, in answer to A, I think the president has pretty much taken care of shutting down the government,” Robinson replied. “He’s had, you know, seven years to do it and he’s done a pretty good job of it. In terms of, of B, that didn’t workout so well for them. So I think they ought to go back and look at the videotape of that game. It wasn’t one of old-timer Newt’s better outings. So I think they might want to review the film.”


     The difference between Gingrich’s shutdown and now is Congress is controlled by the Democratic Party and not the Republican Party. A government shutdown could be viewed to be the fault of liberal Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for not allowing a single up-or-down vote on offshore drilling.


     According to a recent Zogby poll, 74 percent of Americans support offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters. Another poll conducted by the Winston Group found that 68 percent of Americans want Congress to vote on expanding domestic drilling.