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Senate Passes Energy Bill; Clinton Spoofs ‘Sopranos’

The Senate passed an energy bill Thursday, while Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., released an online video spoofing the "The Sopranos." Mark Shields and Rich Lowry discuss the week's political news.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Lowry, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and National Review editor Rich Lowry. David Brooks is off tonight.

    Mark, the energy bill, has the Senate done something important?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    It's done something quite important, Jim. First of all, in Kwame's piece tonight, he featured one of the Senate's most loyal and committed conservatives, Larry Craig of Colorado, member of the board of the National Rifle Association, a true blue, or red, conservative.

    And he said something that you haven't heard a conservative say in a generation, several generations: We cannot produce ourselves out of this crisis. And that the growing dependence upon foreign oil and the area that that foreign oil comes from, and the growing awareness of the problem of global warming, contributed to the reality that forced the Senate finally to ignore the big three, Detroit, who are no longer as big as they were, don't have as much clout. It was history in the making.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    History in the making, Rich?

  • RICH LOWRY, Editor, National Review:

    Certainly, it's a sign of a big shift on the politics of this issue. Global warming has something to do with it, high gas prices, and also the issue of energy independence have a lot to do with it.

    I think these higher CAFE standards have just become a symbol of a good government measure to fight global warming. I'm not sure, if the public actually knew more about it and if they knew that the Senate just voted to make their cars lighter and smaller and/or more expensive in the future, I'm not sure it would be quite as popular as it is now.

    There are also some doubts about how much it will actually do to reduce greenhouse emissions, because there are all sorts of strange incentives where you — if you make cars — if you basically make it more efficient to drive cars, people will drive more.

    And the horn of dilemma of energy politics is what really drives concern about this energy in this country, at the gut level for most people, is high gas prices. And if you really want to fight global warming and try to reduce our carbon emissions, the cleanest, easiest, most rational way to do it would to make the price of gas even higher through very stiff gas prices. And, of course, that's what no one is willing to contemplate or talk about.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What are the politics of this now, Mark? Is it going to go to the House and pass and be signed by the president?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Could I just say one thing to Rich?

  • JIM LEHRER:

    You may.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I mean, the one time, Jim — we haven't done anything on this, really, in 22 years. And between 1975 and 1985, we did the average mile per gallon, an American car, was from 14 miles per gallon in 1975 to 27.5 miles per gallon in 1985. That was a mandate, and that was a federal mandate. And cars did not become prohibitively expensive or anything of the sort.

    And I really — I do think that that has to be borne in mind as we look at this. And we just sold our one millionth Prius, the Toyota car, which is a hybrid, that gets 50 miles to the gallon. So the market is telling us an awful lot about this.

    It's going to be a lot trickier in the House, because you saw a basically united Democratic Party in the Senate, with the exception, obviously, of the auto company states, Michigan in particular, Carl Levin and…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    But do you think it will pass or not?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    In the House, it's going to be more tricky, because there's more moving parts to it. And I think it will pass. I think there's a momentum to it, but it's going to be tougher.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    How do you read this, from this point on, Rich? Is it going to be made law?

  • RICH LOWRY:

    Well, I think that — well, my preference would be no.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    No, OK.

  • RICH LOWRY:

    But…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    But do you think it's going to happen?

  • RICH LOWRY:

    Yeah, I think it's hard — it makes it harder for President Bush to veto it with the kind of Republican support you had for it in the Senate. He dislikes it. He's said things pouring some cold water on it, but I kind of doubt he's going to veto it.

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