Can Americans handle the truth about gas prices?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hello again, everyone! I'm Matt Miller. And welcome to "You Can't Handle the Truth," our weekly quest to see if Americans can face the facts needed to solve our most pressing problems - or whether we'll succumb to the curse that trapped the Romanempire before it fell, when, as the pundit Livy put it, "the people could bear neither their ills nor their cures."

[Turns to the studio audience]

Matt: What do you say, America? Can we bear our ills?

Audience [roaring in unison]: No!

Matt: But can we bear their cures?

Audience: No!

Matt [winking]: You see the dilemma. Today's rendezvous with truth? Gas prices. With Libya in chaos and Mideast jitters sending gas past $3.50 a gallon, we'll take on the most sacred cow in the entire bovine pantheon: the entitlement to cheap gas. In our pre-show poll, we asked our studio audience if they would support higher gas taxes (and thus even higher prices) to achieve a rare public policy trifecta. First, we'd reduce our dependence on oil. Second, we'd create market incentives to invest in clean energy. And third, we'd raise much-needed revenue to shrink our budget deficit. As a bonus, we might eventually stop sending young Americans to die for oil in the Persian Gulf, too!

Alas, 80 percent of you said "no," you would not support higher gas taxes, while only 20 percent said "yes" - and that's where it usually ends in real life. But not on "You Can't Handle the Truth" - where public resistance to sensible reform is just the start of the education campaign our politicians lack the guts or incentive to pursue!

Before we turn to this week's quiz, let's check in with the lovely Angela Barrow, our damsel of debt. Angie, what's the latest number on the red ink we're running?

[Cut to curvy blonde in skimpy dress and high heels standing next to oversized national debt clock.]

Angela: It's so big tonight, Matt.

Matt: How big is it, Angie?

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