Finally, straight talk about the nation's energy problems. In a speech this week to the Associated Press, Vice President Richard Cheney, who's heading up the new administration's energy task force, didn't mince words.
The whole nation, he said, could face blackouts like those that are plaguing California unless more oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy resources are developed to power the nation's industrial and residential needs.
Many environmentalists are fit to be tied. For years, with the help of fawning media allies, they've spun this wonderful fiction, largely unrebutted by high government officials, that Americans can have it all: that with conservation and a switch to "cleaner" energy sources such as windmills, solar and ethanol they can generate all the electricity the country will need, and at affordable rates, while simultaneously achieving a squeaky clean, pristine environment.
Sorry, but that's fantasy, and it was nice to hear the vice president say so. Environmental radicals will distort Cheney's message, claiming that, as former oil men, he and the president seek to dirty up the environment to benefit their old industry.
Of course, such talk is political mudslinging that dodges the real issue Cheney is raising. What balance does the nation want to strike between its energy needs and the environment?
The Green mentality run amok will turn the whole nation into California - rolling blackouts and soaring energy prices due to decades-long failure to develop any realistic new energy resources.
Environmental absurdities also produce the kind of cultural hypocrisy where gas spewing, landscape chewing SUVs are plastered with environmental bumper-stickers. Calls for windmill energy are made without acknowledging that, if the system ever became practical, tens of thousands of high-tech windmills dotting the countryside would uglify the landscape a lot more than power lines ever have.
Details and specifics concerning the administration's energy policy will be released in the weeks and months ahead. They, too, will trigger debate and controversy, as well they should.
But, thanks to Cheney, starting with his remarks this week, it should be a rational debate rooted in hard realities, not phony wishful thinking.