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How Much Brain Power Went Into These Plans?

May 18, 2001|ROY RIVENBURG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Because the rival energy plans issued by President Bush and the Democrats are long-winded and filled with technical terms such as "electricity," "nuclear power" and "dude," The Times has prepared a guide to frequently asked questions.

Question: Will I have to make personal sacrifices to reduce energy consumption?

Answer: Lord, no. Neither plan asks Americans to change their lifestyles. The cover photo on the Democratic energy proposal shows--no joke--a happy family washing their sport-utility vehicle. Not to be outdone, the Bush plan depicts a happy family pouring 55-gallon drums of gasoline directly into storm drains and running 12 air conditioners outdoors to cool off their backyard.

Q: What will be done to boost energy production?

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A: The Bush plan encourages drilling for oil in previously protected areas, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Statue of Liberty and the Vatican. The Democrats call for hiring experienced hillbillies to roam the countryside shootin' at some food, in hopes that one day they'll hit some bubblin' crude.

Q: What about renewable energy sources?

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A: Bush has earmarked $2 million for research into the secret of the Energizer Bunny. "He keeps going and going and going!" said an incredulous Bush. "It's amazing! There must be a way to harness that energy."

Q: How's the outlook for power shortages this summer?

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A: To stave off rolling blackouts, Bush is working with Fox TV to create an exciting new game show called "Electricity Survivor," in which the governors of all 50 states will compete weekly and then vote one state off the national power grid. The states that survive through the end of summer should have all the power they need, he said.

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Q: What about conservation?

A: In a major concession to Democrats, Bush said he "appreciated and respected" their desire for a comprehensive conservation program. "Therefore, under my plan, all Democrats will have to reduce their energy consumption by 35%."

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Q: What if that's not enough?

A: Then Bush would ask states that use the electric chair to switch to an Energy Star-rated model and, as a last resort, would ask the heavy-metal group Spinal Tap to turn down the volume on its speakers from 11 to 10, thereby saving thousands of megawatts a day.

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Q: Can anything be done about gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles?

A: Bush would discourage the use of SUVs by giving tax credits to people who buy one of those new Cadillac or Lincoln pickup trucks instead. The Democrats would promote the use of alternative fuels such as hempseed oil. The fuel costs $75 a gallon, but that's cheaper than gasoline will be after Memorial Day.

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Q: Any other alternatives to oil and nuclear energy?

A: Bush calls for increased reliance on hydroelectric power, which would be achieved by damming Niagara Falls. He also proposes a new "faith-based energy program." Noting that the Bible calls itself a lamp unto our feet and a light for our path, the president said the Good Book could replace inefficient incandescent bulbs, although "it doesn't work for pagans." The Democrats suggest exploring "untapped natural gas reserves," such as Rush Limbaugh, who they described as "full of methane."

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Q: Are there any ideas that Bush and the Democrats agree on?

A: Yes. They both favor making Saudi Arabia our 51st state.

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