Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack — a potential running mate of democratic presidential candidate John Kerry — is attacking republican President George Bush for failing to act to prevent the significant increase in gasoline prices. Vilsack says it’s hard for him to understand why there isn’t more of a hue and cry in Washington, D.C. about gas prices. Vilsack says he and other governors have written President Bush, asking for action, and got a tepid reply. Vilsack says Bush needs to make a more “aggressive effort” on the issue. Vilsack says oil-producing countries are meeting in a summit this week, and Bush needs to do more “jaw-boning” to encourage greater oil production. In addition, Vilsack says it’s time for an “Apollo-like project” to increase U.S. production of renewable fuels like ethanol and soy biodiesel. Kerry has used that “Apollo” line before; now Vilsack’s using it.Vilsack says the U.S. needs to be “a renewable fuel giant” in order to sever our ties with big oil, especially with the average price of gasoline now reaching two dollars a gallon. But republican Senator Charles Grassley — a Bush backer — says one reason gas prices have skyrocketed is because democrats in the U.S. Senate have blocked passage of the energy bill. Grassley says it’d be nice if Vilsack would direct his attention to the leader of democrats in the United States Senate because Grassley says Senator Tom Daschle is keeping the Senate from passing that energy bill. Two more Senate democrats are needed to join the 58 republicans and democrats who’ve already voted to stop the endless debate on the bill and hold a final vote. Grassley says Vilsack should lean on Senate Democrats to vote for the bill.Grassley says the bill would boost the ethanol, wind energy and soy biodiesel industries, and send a clear signal to the Middle East oil-producing countries in OPEC that the U.S. is serious about becoming energy independent. But Grassley says Vilsack, who’s a lawyer, probably doesn’t like the controversial part of the bill that would limit lawsuits. Vilsack says what’s wrong with the democrats is they are trying to protect the trial lawyers who file lawsuits, win big awards and wind up making huge campaign contributions to democrat candidates. Over the noon-hour, Vilsack will speak on the gas price issue during a telephone conference call with political reporters — a call arranged by the Kerry campaign. Vilsack is expected to echo Kerry’s call for releasing the U.S. petroleum reserve to flood the market with more oil that can be refined, hopefully reduce pump prices.
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