Touchy, Touchy: Couric Claims "I Don't Have a Position" on ANWR Drilling
Katie Couric took industrial-strength umbrage this morning when Bill Frist suggested to the soon-to-be CBS anchor that she opposes drilling in ANWR.
Yesterday, Matt Lauer gave respectful treatment to Rush Limbaugh's suggestion that Frist's proposal of a $100 rebate amounted to treating taxpayers like ladies of the night. So the Majority Leader surely knew he was walking into the lion's den this morning.
At one point, Katie hit Frist with excerpts from two letters to the editor of her apparent paper of choice - the NY Times.
"Let's see, $100 rebate checks to all taxpayers to offset rising gas prices. That's money out of my tax dollars back to me to give back to gas companies. The way I figure it that rebate won't even cover my gas one way to Washington to complain."
"Gee, a $100 rebate check. Isn't this just like the piddling Republican tax cuts given to middle-class taxpayers compared with the enormous tax giveaways to the really wealthy? Will we fall for chump change rather than real change?"
When Frist replied: "I would just ask where all those commentators are on the increased exploration in Alaska?" Katie cut in testily: "these are normal citizens, Senator, in addition to government officials."
Frist continued to pound away at his notion that the $100 rebate was just one part of an eight-point program, and that the key to getting prices down in the long run was by affecting supply and demand. Specifically on the supply side, Frist repeatedly touted his support of drilling in ANWR.
Katie referred to ANWR drilling as "a very controversial proposal", adding "that [it] has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress. Some have questioned the Republicans' sincerity because they know, in the view of these critics, that this won't pass." [So the fault lies not with Democratic intransigence but with Republican support for a beneficial proposal?]
That's when things heated up. Frist added "maybe you don't support it, but it has overwhelming support by the American people." Frist pointed out that the legislation had previously passed, noting that if Bill Clinton hadn't vetoed the legislation that had been passed by both houses, we would today be benefiting from 1 million barrels a day from ANWR, more than we import from Saudi Arabia.
A clearly annoyed Couric: "I don't have a position on it, Senator. I don't have a position on it, but would you concede it's controversial?"
Frist: "It's controversial, but it has majority support in the US Senate as was demonstrated on the floor six weeks ago, it has majority support in this country, and it's the right thing to do unless you want to remain, or the American people or others want to remain, 60% dependent on the most unstable parts of the world today."
Note how Frist 'revised and extended this last remark to avoid suggesting that Katie herself wanted to remain dependent on foreign oil. Seems he didn't want to be twice bitten by Couric, who is perhaps particularly eager to hone above-the-fray credentials as she prepares to assume her anchor duties.
Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show 'Right Angle'. Contact him at email@example.com