09/22/05 — Comments: About Bush visits and gas gougers

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Comments: About Bush visits and gas gougers

Although grimacing sometimes at his rather inarticulate delivery of prepared speeches, this newspaper has been a consistent supporter of President George W. Bush.

But most Americans must be tiring of his repeated trips to the Gulf Coast. There have been at least five in recent days.

It must seem to some among us that George Bush has visited New Orleans more times than John Edwards has visited North Carolina.

And for what purpose? He didn’t come hammer-in-hand on Habitat for Humanity missions. Obviously the trips were “photo ops.”

Too late — and too many.

The best “photo op” would have been a trip from Crawford, Texas, to Washington, D.C., in the hours or days before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.


As Hurricane Rita moved into the Florida Keys, gas price gougers were quicker on the draw than Billy the Kid. And just as merciless — as they have been in many places.

But the Florida attorney general was moving to confront them, as he has done in the past.

So far, he has recovered almost $1 million from the gougers.

Gougers in Florida can be socked for $25,000 in “recovery” penalties. It isn’t enough.

The attorney general noted — as has been observed in this column many times — that the gas in the storage tanks before real, contrived or perceived  “emergencies” already had been paid for. The retail price of that gas to the consumer should reflect a reasonable profit for the seller.

That obviously has not been the case. What is happening is a crisis crying out for firm and punitive action by enforcement agencies and lawmakers at state and national levels.

Published in Editorials on September 22, 2005 12:21 PM