May 29, 2008 | I can't decide whether to frame or burn the receipt from a Chevron filling station in Berkeley, Calif., that documents how much I spent to fill the tank of my 12-year-old Nissan Quest minivan on Sunday morning. At $4.09 a gallon for regular unleaded, the total came to $65.68. That's the most I've ever paid for a tank of gas, so I feel inclined to treat the paper record with respect. But a couple of weeks from now, if recent trends hold true, my unwanted milestone will be eclipsed again, and the receipt transformed into a trigger for nostalgia. Four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline? Ah, those were the days.
On Tuesday gas prices hit record highs in the United States for the 21st day in a row. Many Americans are understandably upset and angry. Partisans on both sides of the political aisle believe they know why this is happening. The left blames greedy, customer-gouging oil companies; the right pillories environmentalists for blocking the construction of new refineries, preventing offshore oil development and opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.