If you talk to a MAGA Republican about lower gas prices, there’s a good chance they will immediately tie an effort by Joe Biden to try to help Americans pay a little less as some nefarious thing. Their claim is that when Biden did one of the only things that any modern President can do (and has done) to help consumers, release a measured amount of oil from our strategic reserves, it was a nefarious conspiracy. It was only to “win the midterms.”

How dare he help people? And how dare he do anything that might make him or people who support his policies more popular with voters?

So, we can now add helping people pay less for gas through a legitimate way to the long list of reasons the GOP is “butthurt” over their red wave turned into a puddle. A list that includes women actually wanting control of their own bodies and healthcare decisions, The GOP putting up carpetbagging candidates like Dr. Oz and Herschel Walker, and denying any election is legitimate when they don’t win.

So, instead of doing anything to actually help voters themselves, House Republicans decided to make one of their 1st bills since taking a slight majority all about appeasing oil companies and basically setting up a situation where if the President decides that Americans need help, he will have to betray his own policy position of keeping federal lands free from oil and gas wells. A political “catch-22.”

In short, the bill dictates that any release by the President of the strategic oil reserves must be “offset” by allowing oil and gas companies access to potentially pump out an equal amount of fossil fuel from federal lands.

Wonkette described the purely political stunt like this:

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) insisted that the bill is needed because tight world oil supplies due to Russia’s invading Ukraine just wasn’t the right kind of emergency, you see, and shame on Biden for not drill-baby-drilling more oil out of the ground and burning it. Said Kramer, “You don’t need an emergency reserve to bail you out of high energy prices. You just need to use the Bakken or Permian Basin.” Especially since an increase in production would have left gas prices higher closer to the election. Shame on Biden for actually helping Americans pay less for gasoline.

Despite being a bit crass, Wonkette hits the nail on the head here. Increasing drilling anywhere instead of using the strategic oil reserves would have done nothing for Americans (unless those Americans own or have a lot of stock in an oil company). Those projects take time, sometimes many years before a drop of oil is extracted from the ground and makes its way through a refinery and into someone’s gas tank.

Oil companies benefit. Republicans can appease those donor companies while preaching to their base about how they are helping oil companies “own” the libs and “help will soon be here” for them.

Meanwhile, Americans, regardless of their political affiliations all pay more now. And down the road, may still pay more as no one can predict the future. But Republicans have their campaign slogans and oil companies have their free and unfettered hand to exploit whatever they want, including changing pristine lands where Americans can camp, fish, hunt, explore, vacation, and enjoy into just another oil field.

Furthermore, as POTUS, Biden has pragmatically approved thousands upon thousands of permits for oil and gas companies to exploit — just not on our pristine federal lands. In fact, he has outpaced Trump’s approvals by leaps and bounds. 

This allows him to help America transition to renewable and cleaner forms of energy while making that transition less painful for everyone, regardless of their political party. 

But for some reason, Republicans and their oil allies lust after turning some of America’s favorite vacation spots into oil fields. It is also interesting to note that where Cramer suggested oil companies drill to provide Americans with more and cheaper gas, the Permian Basin, is being used now. That area and Texas in general has more available land to drill on than most of America. In fact,  More than 45% of the active U.S. rigs are operating in the Permian, and 40% of all drilling permits issued in the United States this year are in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The same holds true for frac spreads, with the basin accounting for the lion’s share of frac activity.

So, despite this bill having zero chance of ever becoming law, as it will never see the light of day in the Senate (and if by some miracle it passed the Senate, Biden would surely veto it) — they “went there.” And it is obvious as to why — just to try to make Biden look bad — and to take a cheap shot.

For a bunch of partisans crying about others being “political” this is about as “political” as one can get. And as a reminder, what Biden did in releasing oil from the strategic reserves was about helping Americans, this cheap shot political bill helps no one pay less for gas today or in the future.

At the end of the day, however, no President can do much to affect the price of gas at the pump outside of using the reserves. The House GOP’s stunt somehow tries to make that effort into something bad. In other words, if an oil company wants to charge more, then they should have a free an unfettered hand to rake Americans over the coals and empty their wallets. That is today’s GOP. One doesn’t even have to understand anything about climate change to see that today’s GOP has no interest in helping anyone but their corporate donors. The only thing they want from their grieved base is their votes. They could really care less about their financial future or economic stability as long as they can keep them angry enough to cut off their noses to spite their own face.

These kinds of stunts should serve to help Americans realize why transitioning to renewable and cleaner energy sources matter. If nothing else, as Wonkette points out, it takes the issue away from shady politicians who twist and exploit the issue for votes.  And that might make them actually run on, and while in office work on more important things after the “oil card” is taken away.