While surging gas prices are all the rage on social media, President Joe Biden is calling it "Putin's price hike" and the media is following the narrative.
"There will be a cost as well here in the United States," Biden said in announcing a ban on Russia oil imports Tuesday.
Then, later the same day, Biden effectively threw up his hands in response to what he thought about gas prices, shouting, "they're going to go up.
"Can't do much right now," Biden said. "Russia is responsible."
The media then followed Biden's lead.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Democrat "policies are why we are here in the first place," but The Associated Press suggested Republicans are at fault: "Still, top Republicans blamed Biden for the higher gas prices, and assailed the White House for promoting climate change-fighting environmental measures that they said had hurt U.S. energy production domestically and helped drive fuel prices up.
"At the same time, many in the GOP have been pressing the president to cut off imports of Russian oil, a contributing factor to the market volatility. Last year, the U.S. imported nearly 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum products from Putin's country."
Republicans note the price of gas has been steadily increasing long before the Russian invasion and before any talk of banning Russian oil imports.
AAA reported the average price of gas hit a record average of $4.17 per gallon Tuesday, but that is not all Putin or Russia's fault.
The price rose $1 before the Ukraine invasion, compared to about 70 cents since, according to reports.
Reuters even suggested the Biden gas pump stickers are a recent development, despite having been a social media feature of inflation since Biden took office: "In recent weeks, they have begun selling stickers that can be placed next to gas pump prices, depicting Biden pointing and saying: 'I did that.'"
The Reuters story does troll Biden's strategy to deflect blame, using the headline: "Biden's political strategy on U.S. gas hikes? Blame it on Putin."
The Hill's headline read: "Democrats look for cover on rising gas prices"; but the story noted Russia's invasion gives the party controlling Congress and the White House an out: "Democrats believe they have some political cover because of the bipartisan backlash to Russia."
Some liberal media ignore the story outright. The New York Times did not have a headline on the price of gas on the homepage of its website Wednesday.
The Washington Post homepage features a story that blames gas price on two Democrat boogeymen: Russia and COVID-19.
After noting the fact "only about 3% of crude oil consumed in the United States comes from Russia," the Post did attempt to address the question: "Have the Biden administration's domestic oil policies played a role in rising gas prices?"
But the Post's primary source on that topic is not former President Donald Trump, who kept prices low, or a Republican. It was someone who suggested, "Biden's policies around domestic oil drilling" actually "are not a major driver of the surge."
The Wall Street Journal gave a more pragmatic explanation with its story headlined, "Biden and the Oil Industry Are at Odds, Clouding Effort to Tame Gasoline Prices," with the sub headline noting, "the administration's focus on renewables over fossil fuels has alienated the oil industry when it is needed most."
"It is time to unleash American oil and gas," Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, told AP, adding the "assault on the oil and gas industry has created a weakness in the United States."
Samantha Gross, a fellow and director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Democrat-leaning Brookings Institution, admitted gas prices were already on the rise before the war, but she also blamed gas signs.
"You drive down [the road] and there's the price and a great big sign right next to you; so we're always really aware of what gasoline costs, and it's often a big political issue for whoever's in charge in the presidency and Congress," Gross told the AP. "But, the truth of the matter is, is that oil prices are set on a global market based on global conditions. And there's very, very little that Congress or the president can actually do about them."
Trump disagrees and has warned about Biden's unwinding of energy independence in interviews with Newsmax about a year ago. Trump was predicting the energy price surge and massive inflation under Biden during the presidential campaign.
In the meantime, the Biden administration has approached oil-rich Venezuela and its socialist President Nicolás Maduro, drawing more criticism from Republicans.
"Never should we think that foreign oil is better than American independence when it comes to energy," Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., said. She also criticized the Biden administration for scrapping work on the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.
Gross said the Biden administration could further tap into the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve, as it did to try and calm rising gas prices in November. The White House announced Tuesday it had committed to releasing 90-plus million barrels from the reserve this fiscal year.
"In the short term, that's the way to help keep prices down," Gross said. "But in the long term, if we continue to see the war effort from President Putin, it's a difficult situation."
Information from AP and Reuters was used in this report.
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