The fight over the mortgage bailout bill still being debated by Congress has helped expose one of the best-kept secrets in Washington. Despite the fact that the median price of a home is $218,000, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is threatening to kill the bill unless the cap on the size of mortgages the federal government can guarantee is raised to $730,000. So why would Pelosi stand in the way of legislation she believes could help poorer homeowners unless wealthy homeowners are bailed out too? Because the wealthy are her core constituency. The Democrats have become the party of the rich.

As good conservatives, we have nothing against the rich per se. Except when they begin to try to use the power of the federal government to prevent other Americans from achieving their dreams. And that is exactly what the left is doing on energy policy. For a generation, the left has been placing its own environmental priorities over energy production. First it was an end to hydro-power projects because of the effect on fish and recreation. Then it was bans on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf because of one oil spill in California almost 40 years ago. Since then the left has put an end to the nuclear industry in the 1970s. And now liberals are systematically fighting coal and natural gas power plants across the country over fears of global warming.

As long as energy costs remained low, the rest of the country didn’t pay these policies much attention. But with energy prices rising, people are beginning to notice — especially in more rural areas. Folks in rural America have to drive farther to reach work, the grocery store and medical care.

They also tend to be less wealthy than suburbanites and many city dwellers, which means energy costs eat up more of their budgets. The Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) found that folks in rural areas spend as much as 16.02 percent of monthly family income on gas, while those in urban areas of New York and New Jersey spend as little as 2.05 percent of monthly income.

Americans have a choice. Despite the fact that decreased U.S. consumption will do nothing to curb overall world demand for oil, demonstrating to the world that we are serious about developing our own domestic energy supplies can significantly reduce energy prices today. More and more Americans are getting the message. According to the Pew Research Center,  support for more “exploration, mining/drilling, construction of new power plants” rose 12 points to 47 percent since February. Support for more “energy conservation/regulation” fell 10 points to 45 percent. In February, Americans opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by 50 percent to 42 percent. Today they support it, 50 percent to 43 percent.

Quick Hits:

  • The Colombian military freed three American hostages held for five years by the Hugo Chavez-supported FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
  • After a national backlash threatened his plans to run for governor, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom yesterday reversed his position and said his  city would begin handing over for deportation any juvenile illegal immigrants with drug convictions.
  • Rush Limbaugh signed a new, $400 million deal with Clear Channel Communications that will keep him on the radio though 2016.
  • Assisted suicide activists in Germany said they helped euthanize a perfectly healthy 79-year-old woman who did not want to move into a nursing home.
  • A federal judge in San Francisco yesterday  dismissed a lawsuit by an Islamic charity that sought to prove President Bush acted illegally in 2001 when he ordered the wiretapping of phone calls between Americans and suspected foreign terrorists without court approval.