TODAY MORE than ever, Americans are starved for two interrelated commodities: fuel and fun. Given that American oil companies are reporting their greatest profits ever, it's time for them to invest in a new vision for Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Oil drilling should be part of a smart-growth, mixed-use development -- a world-class resort with casinos, malls and strip clubs (think caribou-fur thongs).
Drilling will require 1,500 miles of roads and pipelines. Developers could turn the roads into pay-per-ride snowmobile raceways and run neon lights along the pipes, creating cutting-edge art visible from every hotel room. Golf courses could integrate oil spills as the Arctic equivalent of sand traps. The novelty-seeking public would find this far more amusing than wilderness, with its stinky musk ox and those notoriously ill-tempered polar bears.
Indeed, a three-star restaurant would serve exotic game, prepared with gourmet sauces from summer berries. When those species die out, the chefs could import fresh polar bear and caribou meat from Texas game ranches.
Memory of the old ANWR would be honored with a museum in the shopping mall. Gwich'in and Inuit gods would become Disney-like characters roving the Arctic theme park, and sacred fetishes could be transformed into collectible plush toys -- available at the exits of attractions such as Robert Peary's Dogsled Ride.
Turning nature and history into a theme park is what this nation does best. And this project is particularly reasonable because the oil that ANWR produces should be just enough to fuel the jets, motor homes and SUVs delivering those visitors to the newest American playland.