Straight Talk on Gasoline

John McCain's new ad says that Barack Obama's refusal to open America's coastline to drilling is to blame for high gas prices:

They say nobody ever went wrong underestimating the intelligence of the voting public, but it is staggering that you can't find any credible people anywhere prepared to argue that McCain's drilling schemes will bring any short-term relief from high gas prices or that the long-run price reductions would be anything other than tiny. Meanwhile, it's McCain who has no plan to help bolster alternative fuels and no plan to bolster alternatives to driving.

Meanwhile, take something like the accessory dwellings issue. Here you have a bunch of regulations that make it illegal for people to live more densely. Illegal, in other words, to build the kind of communities where the gas price issue wouldn't hurt so much. But there's a movement afoot to change things. Similarly with minimum parking rules -- regulations that interfere with the operation of the free market in such a way as to make it more difficult for people to live energy efficient lives. And again, there are people trying to change this. These things are regulatory barriers to solving our energy problems every bit as much as the ban on offshore drilling is. And conservatives are against regulation, right? Except the anti-drilling regulation is good for the environment and for coastal economies whereas anti-urbanist regulation is economically inefficient and environmentally destructive. Naturally, conservatives have chosen to aim all of their fire at anti-drilling regulations. And that's the sort of thing that makes the conservative movement hard to take seriously -- it's an organized defense of existing power and privilege that now and again adopts principled rhetorical modes of various kinds but basically can't be moved to act unless some lobbyists pay them too.