The Great Gas Price Myth

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 17 2012 4:21 PM

The Great Gas Price Myth

The Blaze claims to have found a John McCain ad that "predicted" the surging gas prices of the Obama era. "Obama presides over a national gas average of 3.86 a gallon," writes Benny Johnson, "and that includes states where the average is $4 and above — just as one of McCain’s ads promised."

That's not quite right. The ad, as you can see from the YouTube stamp, ran on July 21, 2008. Gas prices at that time were surging.

Screen shot 2012-09-17 at 3.19.11 PM

Then came the crash of 2008, and prices collapsed. Republicans like to start the price clock on the day Obama took power, January 20, 2009 -- i.e., near the bottom of the market. Prices in 2012 are not quite up to the level they were during the pre-crash spike. That was what McCain was referring to. The idea that Obama's policies "doubled" gas prices is a popular trope that's believable only if you write off the economic crisis. It's fun!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.