Tuesday, April 20, 2004

It's probably a little late, but Woodward seemed to be trying to do some damage control for the White House on Larry King last night:

"I don't say there's a secret deal or any collaboration on this," Woodward told CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday. "What I say in the book is that the Saudis ... hoped to keep oil prices low during the period before the election, because of its impact on the economy. That's what I say."

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who appeared on the program with Woodward, said his characterization of Saudi policy was "accurate."

"We hoped that the oil prices will stay low, because that's good for America's economy, but more important, it's good for our economy and the international economy," he said. "This is nothing unusual. President Clinton asked us to keep the prices down in the year 2000. In fact, I can go back to 1979, President Carter asked us to keep the prices down to avoid the malaise."

"So yes, it's in our interests and in America's interests to keep the prices down. But that was not a deal."

Fine, except... what's so special about "the period before the election", as opposed to, say, right now? (Oil currently sits at over $33 a barrel, not the "$22 to $28" Prince Bandar says the Saudis would like.)

I mean it's still a better spin job than Scottie Mac managed yesterday, but it still leaves a big question unanswered -- why just before the election? Why not now?

Here are the unassailable facts:

- OPEC controls oil prices
- the Saudis have a lot of say in OPEC
- the Saudi ruling family are great friends with the Bush family

Quite frankly, it would strain incredulity to think that the Saudis wouldn't try to manipulate oil prices to Bush's advantage in the upcoming.

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