President Bush's goal of replacing 75 percent of U.S. oil imports from the Middle East by 2025 with better energy options sounds loftier than it is, critics say.
Americans may be addicted to oil, as Bush said in his State of the Union address last week. But since only about 20 percent of this country's imported oil comes from the Middle East, critics say there's less to the president's initiative than meets the eye. (All told, Americans consume 20 million barrels of oil a day, 60 percent of it imported.)
The Union of Concerned Scientists says the nation could achieve Bush's goal in just 10 years if new cars and trucks would average 40 mpg. They get a little better than 20 mpg now. Instead, Bush called for research to speed development of hybrids, fuel cells and ethanol vehicles.
Still, Frank Gaffney - a former Pentagon official and one of the so-called defense hawks who wants Washington to treat oil dependence as a top security threat - says Bush deserves some credit. For a former Texas oilman to propose weaning Americans from petroleum, Gaffney says, is a Nixon-goes-to-China moment.
But most response was more middle-of-the-road. For New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, it "was more like Nixon goes to New Mexico."