David Schiefelbein: 'Daily Show' airs sad truth
"The Daily Show" news staff outdid itself Wednesday. While often specializing in skewering the news and the TV personalities who deliver it, Jon Stewart’s team showed what national news ought to be presenting.
On the day after President Barack Obama’s prime-time address pitching a renewed emphasis on developing alternative fuel sources to wean our country off its oil dependence, "The Daily Show" presented a well-researched documentary of sorts in a segment titled “America is an unstoppable oil-dependency breaking machine – unfortunately, the machine runs on oil” (Click here to watch).
As it often does with it’s sarcastic look at the news of the day, the program went from a clip of Tuesday’s prime-time address – “Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation to seize control of our own destiny…” – to a clip from the previous administration.
Yep, Bush said basically the same thing in the Jan. 31, 2006, State of the Union when he vowed “… to move beyond a petroleum-based economy to make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.” Remember cost-efficient batteries for electric cars and hydrogen fueled vehicles?
And then it showed a clip from Bill Clinton: “…To maximize conservation and maximize the development of alternative sources of energy…” (June 28, 2000)
And George Bush I: “… There is no security for the United States in further dependence on foreign oil…” (Aug. 18, 1988)
And Ronald Reagan: “ … We will continue supportive research leading to development of new technologies and more independence from foreign oil…” (Feb. 18, 1981)
And Jimmy Carter: “… This intolerable dependence on foreign oil…” (July 15, 1979)
And Gerald Ford: “… New standby emergency programs to achieve the independence we want …” (Jan. 15, 1975)
And finally, Richard Nixon: “…We will break the back of the energy crisis and we will lay the foundation for our future capacity to meet America’s energy needs from America’s own resources…” (Jan. 30, 1974)
A literal Gang of 8 - eight of the most powerful men in the world, in succession, failed to make any headway in leading this country away from a petroleum/oil-based economy.
If Obama did one thing Tuesday night, he understated the challenge.
No single industry has such a stranglehold across our economy and way of life, everything from plastics to pharmaceuticals to how we package and transport goods is dependent on petroleum.
While Obama offered no real plan of attack to stopping the flow of oil into the waters of the gulf after earlier vowing the buck stopped with him, he at least did do one thing: He brought a well-worn if oft-ignored subject back to the forefront of the national conversation.
I thought about the globs of oil and fouled waterfowl spreading across the Gulf Coast as I filled $50 worth of gas into my pickup truck.
At one time, the horse-and-buggy industry was prominent. We’ve come along way since then, and I enjoyed the conditioned air keeping me comfortable as I crossed hill and dale on my way to work Thursday. Buggy riders might have enjoyed a slight breeze, but summer air was still hot and muggy, winter air icy.
We’ve come along way, we need to go still further. As a society, we’re not going to give up our cars.
Here in Missouri, a state push to expand alternative fuel industries a couple years back was hijacked by the corn lobby, and a number of legislators put personal money into building corn-based ethanol plants.
Missouri needs to revisit that attempt to expand renewable energy choices by developing fuels that don’t take as much energy to produce as they yield.
Corn ethanol is not THE answer, but the answers are out there, in grass fields, in forest byproducts, in algae tanks and in compost bins and garbage dumps. Energy is out there in the wind and the sun and the surf. We need to encourage entrepreneurs and scientists to find a way to make them marketable.
That must be our priority across this country. As soon as we stop that oil from billowing up into the Gulf of Mexico. …
Contact David Schiefelbein at email@example.com.
Presidential timeline of lost promises
June 15, 2010: Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation to seize control of our own destiny. - Barack Obama
Jan. 31, 2006: Move beyond a petroleum-based economy to make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. - George W. Bush
June 28, 2000: To maximize conservation and maximize the development of alternative sources of energy. – Bill Clinton
Aug. 18, 1988: There is no security for the United States in further dependence on foreign oil. – George H.W. Bush
Feb. 18, 1981: We will continue supportive research leading to development of new technologies and more independence from foreign oil. – Ronald Reagan
July 15, 1979: This intolerable dependence on foreign oil. – Jimmy Carter
Jan. 15, 1975: We will break the back of the energy crisis and we will lay the foundation for our future capacity to meet America’s energy needs from America’s own resources. – Richard Nixon
SOURCE: "The Daily Show" clips