Does a farmer determine the price he will receive when he sells his corn or wheat or soybeans to the market? Does a dairy farmer make the call as to the value of his milk? Does a silver miner set the price of a bracelet? Do orange growers tell grocers what to charge for a carton of OJ? Of course not. Their profits rise or fall based on the confidence of buyers and sellers of commodities responding to the open and free markets. So why does the Senate parade oil-producing executives in front of a firing squad of irate, hauty law-making questioners and demand to know what they are going to do about high gasoline prices? Doesn't it make you want to shout, "Are you stupid?" When Sen. Dick Durbin asks, "Does it trouble any of you when you see what you're doing to us?," does he think we don't understand the price of a barrel of oil is directly affected by a supply that is ever harder and more costly to suck out of the ground, and that is locked up by nationalistic countries protecting their own supplies, and that is limited by the very legislators haranguing them who make off limits 85% of the U.S.'s own outer continental shelf? When Sen. Herb Kohl says, "Even when prices at the pump go crazy, you have no problem in keeping up with your own increasing profit," does he think we don't know that demand is ever burgeoning with huge energy markets like China and India hungry for more, and that no marketable, economical, viable alternatives yet exist for powering the world's vehicles? When Sen. Patrick Leahy suggests, "Prices should not skyrocket like this in a functioning, competitive market," does he think we don't get that a tight supply and voracious demand leave little margin for error, and that every time a Nigerian rebel shoots onto a rig, or a Middle Eastern or Latin American pissant dictator shoots off his mouth, or a storm brews in the Gulf of Mexico, the fear of less spikes the price? "Where is the corporate conscience?" asks Durbin. Are you stupid? Maybe the august senators need look no further than their own Federal Reserve chairman to find the answer to why the price of a barrel of oil has doubled in a year. Concerned more about market liquidity than inflation in contrast to his predecessor Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke has responded to the sub-prime credit market meltdown by flooding the market with dollars. And what happens when you print funny money? The value of the dollar has plummeted on a global scale. So where we're paying $130 for a barrel of oil, those paying in Euros or yen aren't feeling the pain nearly as much. Steve Forbes states, "Inflation accounts for at least half of the price of oil today." And as the dollar freefalls, the oil commodities market has experienced a tidal wave of institutional investors such as pension funds, hedge funds and endowments saturating the oil futures market---seen as a safe-haven for billions upon billions in long-term investors' cash---that has accelerated the breath-taking climb in oil prices. So the Senate grills major oil executives as if they're the bad guys for making a profit for their shareholders, suggesting a windfall profits tax might be in order. How do you make U.S. A&D become just a big "D?" Try making the tax regime so greedy that a company can no longer make a profit doing business there. Just ask Alberta. Oops. Are you stupid? Steve Toon, Editor, A&D Watch; Contributing Editor, Oil and Gas Investor; www.OilandGasInvestor.com; stoon@hartenergy.com