"Did I say 75%?"

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It may shock you to learn that the president was blowing smoke when he vowed in his SOTU address to reduce US dependence on Middle Eastern oil by 75% by the year 2025. (Via the Daily Grist.)

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America’s dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn’t mean it literally.

What the president meant, they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025.

So that musta just been, you know, one of those off-the-cuff remarks that used to make him so popular among carefully screened, invitation-only, loyalist audiences.

As it happens, he didn’t actually mean “75%” and he didn’t actually mean “the Middle East.”

“This was purely an example,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.
Asked why the president used the words “the Middle East” when he didn’t really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that “every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands.”

Ok, so that was like, a parable? That paragraph ends, by the way:

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble.

In any event, the alternative fuels he touted will not replace our dependence on oil*:

But the plan for a 22 percent boost in federal energy research also left many experts scratching their heads. How would solar, wind, “clean, safe nuclear,” and “clean coal” research cut US oil imports?

“The president’s initiative ties an oil savings target to a basket of energy solutions for homes and businesses, which have nothing to do with our oil problem,” Gal Luft of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, an energy security think tank in Washington, said in an e-mail.

(*Update: I managed to “disappear” this part of the post the first time.)


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