... Gunnar Lund, the Swedish Ambassador, told me that at dinner with Bush, he was impressed by how incredibly animated and knowledgeable Bush was about renewable energy and is looking to make it his legacy. The same thing at a big conference a few months ago. Bush was there with 1,000 others, furiously taking notes on
everything from cellulosic ethanol to plug-in hybrids...
Opinion Journal's Political Diary
Ethanol to the Rescue
President Bush is expected to pursue a major domestic initiative in the next year to build a "legacy" before he leaves office. Conservatives are nervous that this means the White House striking a deal with Democrats to shore Social Security -- a deal that might include a whopping tax increase if the current cap on payroll taxes is raised. That danger still exists, but my sources tell me Mr. Bush may instead be placing his "legacy" chips on changing energy policy.
Democrats who have recently visited with Mr. Bush in the Oval Office have found him both fixated and fascinated by alternative fuels. "He's all into switch grass," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat, told the San Francisco Chronicle. She said Mr. Bush was "very engaged and wants to move forward" on bold plans to cure America's "addiction to oil."
Indeed, it appears something is in the works for Mr. Bush's State of the Union message. A federal advisory council on bio-fuels has been told to delay issuing its just-completed report because it might upstage a major announcement from Mr. Bush. White House advisor Al Hubbard is telling reporters to expect a major initiative on energy soon.
Conservatives may not like the subsidies and government-directed research that will be a likely part of any Bush energy plan, but if it means he spends less time pursuing a deal on entitlements with Democrats, they'll consider it a victory. "Bush should know that Democrats could always lead him down the primrose path on Social Security and then use it to bash Republicans in 2008," one GOP Congressman told me. "With energy you have a better chance of building a bipartisan consensus and less political risk."
-- John Fund