Chatterbox believes that Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer’s comments concerning energy consumption are being taken out of context. In fact, Fleischer’s remarks were even more contemptuous of government efforts to goad citizens into conserving energy than a casual reading of stories in the Washington Postand USA Todaymight suggest. To correct the record, he reprints a lengthier portion of what Fleischer said at the May 7 White House press briefing:
Q: Is one of the problems with this, and the entire energy field, American lifestyles? Does the president believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the president believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?
Fleischer: That’s a big no. The president believes that it’s an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy-makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we’re able to get those resources in an efficient way, in a way that also emphasizes protecting the environment and conservation, into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.
Q: So Americans should go on consuming as much [or] more energy than any other citizens in any other countries of the world, as long as they want?
Fleischer: Terry, the president believes that the American people are very wise and that, given the right incentives, they will know how and they will make their own right determinations about how much they can conserve, just as the president announced last week that the federal government, as part of its consumership in California will reduce energy needs–for example, the Department of Defense facilities in California, by 10 percent. He believes the American people, too, will make the right decisions about conservation, and the program he will announce shortly will also include a series of conservation items.
But the president also believes that the American people’s use of energy is a reflection of the strength of our economy, of the way of life that the American people have come to enjoy. And he wants to make certain that a national energy policy is comprehensive–that includes conservation, includes a way of allowing the American people to continue to enjoy the way of life that has made the United States such a leading nation in the world.