The other night on "Real Time With Bill Maher," Maher mentioned how that when Bush took office in January 2001, gasoline cost $1.60 per gallon. Today, it's over $3 with economists speculating it could go as high as $4 in the summer. Maher's response: "Mission Accomplished." Because of Bush and Cheney's connections to the oil industry, the rise in oil prices is seen as a direct correlation of their actions in office. Specifically, that they engineered various political actions that would enable prices to increase, taking care f all of their industry friends . Normally I would scoff at such a simplistic explanation, but it does seem to carry with it some merit. I can't say that Bush created foreign policies (like the Iraq war) and waffled on other controversial issues (global warming) intentionally to raise prices, but I think it would be ignorant to claim that the actions of the U.S. president have no effect on international trade. Of course, Joe Scarborough, one of the guests on Maher's show pointed out the increase in oil consumption by India and China, something an anti-Bush partisan like Maher rarely comments on since it would jeopardize his conspiracy theory. Still, one does have to wonder that, even Hurricane Katrina, Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin, just how bad would oil prices be if we didn't have an unpopular war in the Middle East hanging over our head? –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week;