'Confused' Chuck Todd: Don't Blame Obama for Rising Gas Prices

MSNBC's Chuck Todd rattled off a list of reasons to explain the sharp rise in the price of oil - none of which included Barack Obama's offshore drilling moratorium - and was "confused" about why anyone would blame the president for the prospect of $4 per gallon gasoline.

On the April 28 "Daily Rundown," Todd suggested the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing measures and increases in global demand account for the dramatic spike in oil, but he absolved the president of any blame.

"I guess what I'm confused about, how is this an administration - what is it that the president could have done about the price of gasoline?" wondered Todd, interviewing Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

The junior senator from Mississippi retorted that the president should stop "slow-walking" permits for oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico to allow domestic firms to tap into the "plentiful oil resources that we have here in the United States of America."

After making excuses for the Democratic president, Todd boldly asserted that "there doesn't seem to be any expert that believes" Obama could have done anything to prevent the price of gasoline from eclipsing $4 per gallon.

Perhaps the morning anchor meant to say there doesn't seem to be any liberal experts who are criticizing Obama for not doing more to curtail rising gas prices: the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, offered the president some policy advice on this precise issue.

"So what's the solution?" wrote Mike Brownfield in an April 20 blog post. "The president needs to change course, lift the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, and open up our domestic resources for exploration."

Heritage colleagues John Ligon and Nicolos Loris echoed Brownfield's assessment, claiming that "increasing access to oil reserves in the U.S., both onshore and offshore, would help offset rising demand, increase jobs, and stimulate the economy."

Responding to Todd's incredulity, Wicker noted that he and 28 senators recently introduced a resolution to "send a message to the president" in support of streamlining the review process for oil permit applications.

And just so NBC's political director knows, Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska) joined the chorus of congressional opposition to Obama's squelching of offshore oil drilling.

"This de facto shallow water drilling moratorium is having a painful impact on the Gulf Coast's economy," explained Landrieu. "I don't know how much more it will take before this administration understands the harsh consequences of its intransigence."

A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:


The Daily Rundown

April 28, 2011

9:11 a.m. EST

CHUCK TODD: I guess what I'm confused about, how is this an administration - what is it that the president could have done about the price of gasoline? I mean, you have an issue with the Federal Reserve pumping money into the economy, pumping more dollars into the world economy. You have global demand. Is there any policy that could have been done that could have stopped $4 per gallon? There doesn't seem to be any expert that believes that.

Sen. ROGER WICKER (R-Miss.): I joined with 28 members of the Senate just recently, sending a message to the president, asking him to quit slow-walking the permits. You know, we had the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year, the president cut of drilling there. Then he supposedly lifted the moratorium but the process since then has been to slow-walk the permits and so there's hardly any new drilling that's going on in the Gulf of Mexico. If the president would take that action, and if we were to have a national energy policy of using the plentiful oil resources that we have here in the United States of America, it would do a lot to bring down the price of a barrel of oil worldwide and it would certainly help us here in the United States of America. That is the action that the president has failed to take in allowing us to get back to drilling our own oil.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, Senator Roger Wicker, we got to leave it there, we're out of time, it's good to have you with us, sir. And keep us posted on the situation in Mississippi. Our thoughts are with the people of that state.

-Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.