Miami-Dade voters have been inundated with political ads for going on six months now, but among the most visible -- and probably the most risible -- are the billboards all over I-95 and now the full-page Miami Herald ads showing Obama bowing to a Saudi sheik and blaming the Prez for higher gas prices.
Who's behind the gas-price blitz? Well, oil companies and pro-Israeli activists of course.
About two months ago, a handful of these billboards popped up around South Florida, contrasting gas prices when Obama took office to the cost at the pump today:
The ads are hilarious for any number of reasons. Gas prices were so low when Obama took office because the world was teetering on the brink of a full-blown depression, sinking demand to historic lows and plummeting costs. How dare Obama rescue us from the brink of catastrophe and thus increase demand!
Every presidential cycle, every economist in America repeats the same mantra: PRESIDENTS DON'T AFFECT GAS PRICES. They just don't.
(A University of Chicago economist recently polled 41 economists from across the political spectrum about whether presidents -- rather than market forces -- can change the cost of gas. Not a single economist believed the president had any role in price fluctuations.)
There are plenty of legit criticisms of Obama's energy policy and his foreign policy. Blaming him for gas prices is not one of them. So stop it.
So who is behind the attacks?
Let's start with the billboards. They're the work of a Miami-based SuperPAC called American Principles.
American Principles has been tied to Israeli activist groups by online watchdogs. A spokesman for the PAC did not respond to multiple emails from Riptide to talk about the campaign.
If you opened your Miami Herald after Monday's debate, you'd find a very similar full-page ad, also showing Obama bowing to Saudi King Abdullah and claiming "his restrictive energy policies ... endanger our children's future."
The source of Tuesday's ads was a different PAC, called the New American Energy Opportunity Foundation.
Like American Principals, they have yet to file any donor reports. But in interviews -- and in their leadership -- they haven't been shy in admitting they're working for Big Oil.
The group's president, Martin Fleming, is former president of the Texas Independent Producers; along with the group's chairman, Scott Noble, he runs the nation's largest oil and gas royalties company.
Before the RNC in Tampa, Fleming pledged to lead a political fight for oil producers.
"Here's one of the things that the oil and gas industry has done traditionally. We've sat around the table and talked to each other about how we wished things were different, and then went back to working and didn't do anything about it," Fleming said according to an NPR report. "We decided that the stakes in this election are too great to continue to sit on the sidelines."
Fleming's group argues Obama has erred by halting drilling in federal wildlife preserves. Obviously, oil producers could make more money if Obama opened up more domestic drilling, but would it affect gas prices?
Nope. As this analysis points out, prices under George W. Bush rose from $1.45 a gallon to more than $4 even as he set new domestic drilling records.
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Why is that? Because the U.S. produces less than 2 percent of the world's oil while consuming 20 percent; no matter how much more drilling we open up, we'll always be a buyer on a global market. All that extra oil we produce will just get sold to the highest bidder without making a dent in the global supply.
It's almost as if Fleming's group cares more about making money for the oil industry than helping American consumers. Hmmmm ....