Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Some Americans Believe Bush Acted to Reduce Gas Prices Ahead of the Elections

Welcome to Conspiracy Central.

Analysts scoff at the idea that the Bush administration -- or for that matter any White House -- could manipulate gas prices for political benefit, but a surprising number of Americans believe that's exactly what's behind the significant decline in prices at the pump. A new Gallup poll found that while 53 percent of those surveyed don't believe the Bush administration manipulated the price of gas so it would fall before the November elections, 42 percent agree with that conspiracy theory -- almost two-thirds of them Democrats.

White House spokesman Tony Snow spoke about the suggestion of manipulation yesterday, saying, "The one thing I have been amused by is the attempt by some people to say that the president has been rigging gas prices, which would give him the kind of magisterial clout unknown to any other human being. It also raises the question, if we're dropping gas prices now, why on earth did we raise them to $3.50 before?" When asked if it was possible that oil companies would reduce their prices to help Republicans, Energy Department analyst Joanne Shore told AP, "What company in their right mind would step forward to kill their profit?"

Analysts admit that the post-summer decline in gas prices has been steeper than usual, but say there's nothing sinister behind it. Before summer began, there were concerns about rising demand, the threat of hurricanes and the increasing rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran over Iran's nuclear program. But those fears had largely gone away by the end of the summer, lessening analysts' fears. Additionally, there has been growing domestic inventories of fuel and slowing economic growth, further pushing down prices.

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