Monday, May 01, 2006

Got to be careful with the quotes

John Derbyshire in The Corner yesterday noted an amazing comment from Tim Russert on Meet The Press:
Watching Meet the Press roundtable on the gas price kerfuffle.

Russert, challenging Energy Secretary Sam Bodman: "Oil demand is up. Supply is down. So why are prices rising?"


That is, of course, a quote that is too good to be true. As turns out to actually be the case. According to the MTP transcript, the actual question was:
Mr. Secretary, if, if demand is up but supply is down, why are the profits so high?

And, having just listened myself, I can confirm that the transcript is right.

Well, those are two very different questions. "Demand is up, supply is down, why are the prices rising," is, of course, as ignorant an economic question as one could possibly ask. "Demand is up, supply is down, why are the profits rising," is, at least, not insane. The fact is, the prices could go up without the Evil Oil Company™ profits rising, if the price at the pump represented exactly the cost of delivery. That's obviously not realistic, but at least it's not completely insane, as the question that Derb alleged Russert to have asked is...

Now, I love Derb, who is, as far as I know, the only conservative pundit to have ever had his butt kicked - on-screen - by Bruce Lee (not a great scene, though the Bruce/Chuck Norris face-off in that film is a classic), but if you're going to mock people for making stupid comments, you've got to have the comments right...

Of course, there was an outrageous comment in that Meet The Press discussion. Senator Durbin, for whom I have the utmost respect (not), asked "am I the only one of your guests here that think that profit taking is a problem?" To which I respond, "God, I hope so..."



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