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Covering your gas

From NBC's Mike Viqueira
By the end of the day in US Congress, we will have witnessed at least three press conferences from party leaders on the issue of the high cost of energy, especially gasoline.

The good news is that your elected representatives are still responsive to the concerns of average Americans. Everyone from Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell on down understands that this is an issue that has the potential to change the political dynamic this election year, and is rushing forward with proposals hoping to demonstrate that they are doing something -- or at least trying to.

The bad news is that the two sides are at present nowhere near agreement on what should be done. And ever mindful that this is an election year, they seem to be comfortable with where they are in their positions and don't mind letting the voters decide who is right in November (but not without a lot of noise along the way). In any event, on the very outside chance that they do find common ground, they are unlikely to enact anything that will affect the price of gas in the short term.

Republicans think they have traction, and are pressing relentlessly ahead with their new mantra when it comes to oil: "Find more. Use Less." Opening ANWR and the OCS, coupled with their stated support of a shift to alternative energy is their prescription.

Democrats are in a mind for retribution. They have legislation that would punish oil companies found to be engaging in "price gouging"; they want to take action against OPEC and oil market speculators; and they want to take away the leaseholds of oil companies that are not using those rights to find oil and gas on the 68 million acres they currently have access to. "Use it or lose it," is their battle cry. They also place an emphasis on new sources of energy. They deride the president's policy as one of "drill and veto."

Reality check: There are six weeks of legislative session left before the elections; three weeks in July and three more in September. Then it's off to the hustings. Unless the situation becomes yet more dire between now and then and people really start to panic, don't look for a lot in the way of compromise on the issue from Washington.