TEXT OF COMMENTARY
Kai Ryssdal: There's more going on in the Senate this week than just mopping up the aftermath of the immigration bill.
The upper chamber's started work on an enormous energy plan. It would require wider use of biofuels. It would create tough penalties for price gouging, and set new fuel economy standards, too.
Commentator Ben Stein says he's all for sound energy policy. But, he says, fuel standards aren't the way to do it.
Ben Stein: Supposedly, in the old West, the Colt revolver was "the great equalizer." It meant that a small man had just as much chance of winning a fight as a large man.
My own feeling is that in the modern world, the great equalizer is a potent combination of the automobile and gasoline. With a car and truck and mass production, and gasoline of course, the ordinary Joe Sixpack in his SUV can take up as much space on the highway as the billionaire with his Ferrari or his Prius. Joe Sixpack can go almost as fast. He can often pass up the millionaire's daughter in her hybrid with his pathetic old Blazer.
Now, the beautiful people in their Priuses and Ferraris are in revolt against the ordinary guy in his SUV or his Cadillac.
In the face of global warming, the powers that be are demanding that car makers make their cars smaller and lighter so that they burn a lot less gasoline. It will become far more difficult and expensive for the ordinary shmoe to drive a big car if Congress — now the tool of the environmentalist beautiful people, and God bless 'em of course — raises the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency ratings of new cars and trucks.
Now, don't get me wrong. I want to fix the environment and conserve resources and make us energy independent as much as the next guy. But what I wonder is this: Why don't we start on this by having a ban on the private jets and yachts my tree-hugging rich pals out here in Hollywood love so much?
Why can Congress make it hard for the middle class to drive the cars they love, and at the same time do nothing about moguls burning thousands of gallons an hour in their Gulfstreams or Lursson yachts? If we're gonna stop our addiction to fossil fuels and clean the air, shouldn't the really rich play their part, too?
I guess the answer is simple, as George Orwell gave it to us long ago: We're all equal, but some are more equal than others.
Ryssdal: Ben Stein is a writer, an actor and a lawyer.