April 20, 2004


Woodward, White House, Saudis: No election deal on oil: Kerry rips report of election-related deal (CNN, April 20, 2004)

The charge that Saudi Arabia made a secret pact with President Bush to lower gasoline prices in time to help him in the November presidential election was denied Monday by the White House, the Saudi ambassador to the United States -- and even by journalist Bob Woodward, who raised the specter of such a quid pro quo in a book released Monday.

"I don't say there's a secret deal or any collaboration on this," Woodward told CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday. "What I say in the book is that the Saudis ... hoped to keep oil prices low during the period before the election, because of its impact on the economy. That's what I say."

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who appeared on the program with Woodward, said his characterization of Saudi policy was "accurate."

"We hoped that the oil prices will stay low, because that's good for America's economy, but more important, it's good for our economy and the international economy," he said. "This is nothing unusual. President Clinton asked us to keep the prices down in the year 2000. In fact, I can go back to 1979, President Carter asked us to keep the prices down to avoid the malaise."

"So yes, it's in our interests and in America's interests to keep the prices down. But that was not a deal."

Bandar said much the same thing on April 1, after he met with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice at the White House amid concerns that OPEC production cuts might further push up the price of oil, with U.S. gas prices already at record levels.

Bandar said then that the Saudis wanted to keep the per-barrel price of oil, now topping $33, to between $22 and $28 a barrel, and he also said Bush and Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, "have been in touch on this subject for a while now."

"Saudi Arabia does not live on the moon. When the world economy gets hurt, we get hurt also," Bandar said.

Presumably Mr. Kerry isn't saying the Saudis should raise prices, is he? If we're going to have higher prices why don't we recoup them in taxes instead of letting the sheiks have them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2004 9:36 AM

Their actions speak louder than words. I think they're cutting production to hurt Bush and I think so does Bush. He probably scares the hell out of them.

Moderate gas tax increases, timed intelligently, would be a good measure. Gw's fuel conservation policies are nonexistant. He could do this following his re-election.

Posted by: genecis at April 20, 2004 11:30 AM

Roll this around your tongue:

"House of Saud brandishes threat of oil weapon to ease Bush out of White House."

I imagine that would probably get Bush up into the 70% range.

(They can't be that stupid, can they?)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 20, 2004 11:45 AM


They're cutting production because there's a surfeit of oil and we're headed into the lower demand months.

Posted by: oj at April 20, 2004 12:25 PM

And it does provide an opportunity to swing the election and get a dhimmi who Knows His Place into the White House. Then we have Stability (TM) and flowing oil and everything a Perfect Paradise just like the Clinton years -- until one day it all blows sky-high.

Posted by: Ken at April 20, 2004 12:35 PM

Didn't Kerry promise to use his superior diplomatic skills to persuade the OPEC countries to increase their production? Is he now accusing Bush of doing what he promissed?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 20, 2004 12:39 PM

Kerry's been ripping Bush for weeks on HIGH gas prices, and he thinks it'll be effective if he turns around and complains that Bush might be trying to do something to produce LOW gas prices? Does he have a message? Does he have a target audience to get him beyond 40%?

Posted by: brian at April 20, 2004 1:11 PM

He's cornering the schizophrenic vote.

Posted by: oj at April 20, 2004 1:46 PM

My husband made the same point to a good friend over the weekend when said friend was complaining about corporate cronies, ad nauseum.

Have you ever thought the high gas prices are because they want Bush out?


Posted by: Sandy P. at April 20, 2004 3:12 PM

Brian, it really doesn't what Bush says or what happens in the world; you complain and blame Bush, and some people will buy it--even if it is directly opposite of what you said yesterday, and there is no logic (let alone coherence) to your carping. It is not argument but gainsaying (see Python, M., Argument Clinic).

Posted by: Bob M at April 20, 2004 8:34 PM