When the Associated Press recently released a "Fact Check" analysis reviewing 36 years of data showing no statistical correlation between what U.S. consumers pay for gasoline and the amount of oil being pumped out of the ground here, some thought they had a "gotcha" moment.
Pundits and politicians alike quickly jumped on the news to thump those who argue that increased domestic oil drilling would lower prices at the pump. The left-leaning Think Progress blog piped in that with domestic oil production "at its highest level in eight years... if drilling dictated gas prices, they should already be at the $2 Republicans promise."
"Drill here, drill now, pay the same," quipped liberal radio talk show host Alan Colmes. "The simplistic view of 'drill here, drill now' has no credibility as a means to bring down the price of a gallon of gas," said a poster at the Daily Kos.
The AP compared the inflation-adjusted price of gasoline with U.S. oil production since 1976, concluding that "the numbers sometimes go in the same direction, sometimes in the opposite directions. If drilling for more oil meant lower prices, the lines on the chart would consistently go in opposite directions." At least no one can accuse the AP of being overly technical.
The AP report itself pointedly concluded, "The statistics directly contradict the title of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's 2008 book 'Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less,' as the campaign-trail claims from the GOP presidential candidates."
But a funny thing happened on the way to the repeal of the law of supply and demand when it comes to energy prices. A few days later, the AP ran a story under the headline, "Natural Gas Price Drops to a 10-Year Low." It began: "Natural gas prices tumbled to a 10-year low Thursday after a surprising jump in U.S. supplies."
So increased energy production does not lower the price of energy - except when it does. How to account for such a crazy world? Needless to say, the left-wing blogosphere pretty much went silent in response to the natural gas story.