While scanning the tube last night, we were astonished by the good news that CNN had uncovered the promised land: a location where gas prices are well under $2 per gallon.
The bad news: that place is Myanmar.
"Another crippling problem [here] is fuel," said CNN's Dan Rivers, one of the few Western correspondents on the ground in the cyclone-ravaged dictatorship, told viewers of Anderson Cooper 360 last night [see clip here]. "Here the gas is $1.50 per gallon." Cut to Rivers, in a car, cruising past a very long line of beat-up autos waiting for a turn at the pump. We thought we'd heard him wrong, since by the tone of his voice, it sounded as if he thought $1.50 per gallon were some sort of human rights violation. "And if you don't want to wait for hours," he added, "you can pay the black market rate of 10 times that amount."
After rewinding our DVR to make sure we'd heard him right, we reflected that should a domestic buck-fifty-a-pump materialize, there would likely be much longer lines around it, and that hard-working Americans would feel lucky to be waiting in it. The Democratic hopefuls have spent the past week bickering about whether or not to suspend the Federal gas tax for the all-important summer travel season -- the affirmative view having already been embraced by McCain and the White House. Perhaps, a cynical wag might say, what we really need is a good cyclone.
Except, of course, that the Bush administration already had its big hurricane moment, and we all know how that turned out. It's absurd enough that the First Lady had the gall to criticize the military regime in Myanmar, calling the country's disinclination to grant visas to aid workers "just the most recent example of the junta's failure to meet its people's basic needs." You didn't need to be a late-night comedian to seize the irony of this particular proclamation. Say what you will about Myanmar's secretive regime and its atrocious response to its citizens in their time of ultimate need: we've got all that and, more likely than not, $4-a-gallon gas by the end of summer.