Al Eaton was all set to toss Dan Lungren’s letter in the trash when he noticed something that amazed him. The Rio Vista resident already had no idea why Sacramento’s Republican congressman would be sending him a “reply” for “contacting” his office, given that Eaton had never written to him in the first place. But apparently, Lungren had something to say to the retired high-school teacher and liberal Democrat.
The letter, dated April 4, 2005, starts off by defending the Republican Congress’ push of House Resolution 6, energy legislation that allows drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). While critics say the oil in ANWR would last only six months, Lungren argues that it could last 25 years by being used to “supplement rather than replace our need for foreign oil.” (Congress passed the bill on April 21.)
But it’s what comes next that caught Eaton’s attention. While discussing the nation’s dependency on foreign oil, Lungren writes, “I feel quite strongly that as long as we have our military in the Middle East fighting so that we can continue to purchase oil from that region (my emphasis), we have an obligation to find alternatives to foreign oil. It is difficult to justify the death of even one soldier when we are not doing everything in our power to explore options for oil within our country.”
But was this really a slip in judgment or a sign that Republican leaders are shifting the rhetoric on Iraq one more time?
Ironically, polls are beginning to suggest the public may be psychologically prepared for a shift in rhetoric from the war on terrorism to a battle for oil. According to Editor & Publisher last week, the Gallup Poll shows that half of all Americans now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a 20-percent increase from 2003.
Still, even if there is truth behind Lungren’s apparent rhetorical slip, not everyone is pleased to hear it. After hearing Lungren’s remarks, California Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland characterized the letter as a “tragic” example of Republican hypocrisy.
“Lungren was a 220-pound football player that avoided serving in Vietnam by using a knee injury as an excuse not to go,” countered Mulholland. “He consistently avoided the military. Now that he gets to use it, it won’t be him or his kids that go overseas to die.”
There's many a slip 'twixt Iraq and the gas cap. For this congressman to let that language go out over his name shows that Bush's true reasons for committing us to this criminal war are getting closer to the surface every day. They can't hide it from us much longer at any rate and perhaps aren't trying as hard to do so. Good. Let's get it out in the open. And start building gallows frames on the White House lawn.