Jon Stewart’s Stinging Rebuke of Presidential Promises to Get off Oil

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future

Jon Stewart fired one of his more brilliant salvos last night, synthesizing 40 years of political posturing around energy independence and America’s addiction to foreign oil in just under eight minutes of pointed satire. Using President Obama’s Oval Office speech on Tuesday, where he urged a new energy future, Stewart skewered his rhetoric by playing clips from the past seven presidents, dating to Nixon, as they also pledged to get us off oil.

As he so often does, Stewart offers purer critique of the issue with a few short video clips and montages than the whole of the punditocracy blabbering on in other media.

"For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil are numbered," said President Obama. "Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny."

"I believe I can fly…" Stewart breaks in, very off key, before continuing, "On non-petroleum based technology… or giant magnets or hamsters running simultaneously.. some other type of energy source we haven’t …"

Of course, Obama’s call to arms is virtually identical to one given by George W. Bush in 2006, and Clinton in 2000, Pappy Bush in 1988 and on down the line to 1974, when Nixon exclaimed, "We will break the back of the energy crisis. We will lay the foundation for our future capacity to meet America’s energy needs from America’s own resources."

All the presidents also lay out technology fixes, alternative fuels (love Carter’s "gasahol"), and aggressive timelines that become somewhat less aggressive with each successive president.

And of all the ironies, as Stewart pointed out in his bit, despite Nixon’s reviled past and suspect ethics, he was one of the few presidents to give us meaningful environmental protections by establishing the EPA and signing the Clean Water Act. With the others at the helm, we’ve done nothing to abate our consumption of oil, nor meaningfully reduce our over-reliance on driving.

American presidents have talked the energy independence talk for four decades now, but we continue to drive the drive without changing our ways. I don’t know if we will ever elect to move away from fossil fuels affirmatively, or if we will be forced to innovate when the miracle of oil energy dries up or destroys the ecosystems we love and need, but I find it hard to be optimistic.

Anyone else as affected by this clip as me?


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