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President Bush, in a “well, duh” moment yesterday, traveled to St. Mary’s county in southern Maryland to deliver a speech calling on Americans to decrease their dependence on foreign oil. In his 11-minute remarks, Bush said that our reliance on foreign oil “jeopardizes our capacity to grow. I mean, the problem is, we get oil from some parts of the world, and they simply don’t like us. And so the more dependent we are on that type of energy, the less likely it will be that we are able to compete.” (In the spirit of policy debate, I’m going to exercise some strong restraint and refrain from criticizing President Bush’s rather loose grip on the English language, though seriously, what the hell kind of statement is “we get oil from some parts of the world”? Ya think, Mr. President?)

It’s nice of President Bush to finally catch up to what Democrats have been saying for years. Our dependence on an overwhelmingly unstable and undemocratic area of the world to keep our energy-based economy going is nothing short of insanity.

Bush called on American innovation in decreasing our reliance on foreign oil, and called for exploration of alternative energy sources, including ethanol. Perhaps President Bush has finally recognized that despite our better interests, America is now more dependent on foreign oil than we were before 9/11.

Bush and Republican leaders in the Senate should start by putting their full force behind the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate by four Democrats and five Republicans. Among other things, the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act aims to reduce our dependence on oil by 7 million barrels a day in 20 years. The legislation provides funding for the development and mass marketing of hybrid technologies, including ethanol, and provides tax credits and incentives for businesses like gas stations and car manufacturers to offer hybrid fuel technologies to their customers. Ethanol is a fuel source that can be grown right here at home—from things as common as corn, paper pulp, and agricultural waste. All of this has the side benefit of creating American jobs and stimulating our economy.

America’s dependence on foreign oil is shameful. Thanks to President Bush for—belatedly, but better than never—coming to the party. Democrats have been standing around the punchbowl for years.

(Another interesting sidenote about what didn’t happen at the event: Notably absent from the president’s appearance in the strongly red county of St. Mary’s were Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Lt. Gov./GOP Senate candidate Michael Steele. Questioned on the notable absence of the state’s two most senior Republicans, White House adviser Karl Rove said that Ehrlich and Steele could not be at the side of the Commander-in-Chief because “they had existing events of their own.” What kind important event could entice them to ignore a man who has raised them millions, you might ask? They were busy marching in a Labor Day parade in Gaithersburg. Now, I’m from Maryland, and I do love me a good parade, but I’m from one town over, and trust me, the Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade isn’t exactly the must-see political event of the season. The statement released by Steele spokeswoman Melissa Sellers was more telling: “The lieutenant governor is honored to have the support of the president, those in his own party and Democrats and independents alike.” Steele, you might remember, turned out to be the anonymous Senate candidate who, in a Washington Post interview this summer, declared the letter “R” to be a “Scarlet Letter” this election season.)