(08/04/2008)
By Bob Weaver

The national discussion about how families are hurt by gasoline prices seems disconnected from the public's pain.

Phil Gramm, a top adviser to presidential candidate John McCain, resigned from his role as campaign co-chairman after he said US citizens had become a "nation of whiners."

Gramm suggested that the country was facing a "mental recession" instead of real economic problems, a statement likely rejected by struggling families.

President George Bush didn't help matters much by simply saying "And as much as I regret that the gasoline prices are high - and they are - I also understand that people are going to make adjustments to meet their own needs."

With millions of jobs lost to the globalized market, wages stagnant, and food and gasoline prices skyrocketing, making adjustments in poor Appalachia is becoming very difficult.

"And I suspect you'll see, in the whole, Americans using less gasoline. I bet that's going to happen," Bush said.

Exxon Mobil Corp., once again, announced record $11.7 billion quarterly earnings.

They also announced $8 billion in share buybacks, which has raised a few hackles, money that could be used for development.

"They tell us they want to do more domestic production," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "They tell us they need to drill offshore. They tell us that they can find oil on the mainland. And what do they do with their profits? They buy back stock, simply to increase their share price."

Ken Cohen, the company's vice president of public affairs, blamed Congress for the companies lack of development.

Congress has been giving the oil companies an $8 billion tax break.

Democrats argue that producers already hold 68 million acres of federal lands on which they are not producing oil or gas.

Getting off-shore oil in the pipeline will take several years, and will only fill a small hole in current needs.

Lifted by record crude prices, Chevron Corp. said Friday its second-quarter profit rose 11% from a year ago, capping another round of massive earnings for the major oil companies.

The San Ramon, California-based company said it made $5.98 billion, or $2.90 per share, during the three months ending June 30.

The major oil outfits are pleasing their stockholders, with minimal actual development.


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