COMMENTS: Bush Drills Dry Well in Riyadh

All three networks had their traveling White House correspondents file from Riyadh as President George Bush requested that Saudi Arabia increase its production of crude oil. The Saudis responded with a daily hike of 0.3m barrels, an amount that energy analysts told NBC's John Yang was "a drop in the bucket." Yang called the response "a qualified no." CBS' Bill Plante said Bush was "turned down…the second time that has happened in five months." ABC's Martha Raddatz (embargoed link) was most cutting, calling it "a bit of a slap in the face" before resurrecting then-candidate George Bush's boast during Campaign 2000: "The President of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price."

Back in 2000, ABC's Raddatz remarked dryly, a barrel of crude oil cost $27; now it is nearly $127. "The problem for the United States is that it has lost its leverage and the Saudis, who are reaping billions of dollars a day, have little incentive to change." NBC's Yang reported on the Saudi view of the oil market: Riyadh argues that the United States does not have enough refineries to turn additional crude oil into gasoline even if it were pumped; furthermore the high price of oil is caused by a mixture of four factors--the weakness of the dollar, commodity speculation, political instability in the region and, just this week, a spike in demand for diesel from China for earthquake relief.

CBS rounded out its weeklong morning-and-evening Eye on the Road series in which Evening News correspondent Nancy Cordes drove west from New York City while Early Show correspondent Jeff Glor drove east from San Francisco, each filing features on gasoline sticker shock and energy belt tightening en route. They met in Independence Mo and compared fuel bills: gasoline for Glor's Toyota Prius hybrid cost 10c per mile; Cordes' Ford Fusion was 16c; and each mile in the cameraman's Sports Utility Vehicle consumed 30c of fuel.


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