About once a year, Congress brings in oil executives, with the media piling on, and blames oil company profits for high gas prices.
Across the dial, all three network morning shows on April 1 - ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today," and CBS's "The Early Show" - characterized "big oil" as the culprit behind an increase in gas prices.
On ABC's April 1 "Good Morning America," which headlined one of its segments "April Fuel's Day," Chris Cuomo questioned why oil companies aren't taxed more while they're posting higher profits.
"Congress is calling all the oil companies on the carpet today," Cuomo said. "Lawmakers want to know why big oil needs billions in tax breaks while posting record profits of $123 billion. Consumers want answers too. Gas now runs $3.29 a gallon, up three cents from last week and 58 percent higher than last year. Oil executives argue they need tax breaks to expand production."
But punishing oil companies with a higher tax burden will not make things any better. The Heritage Foundation's Ben Lieberman pointed this out on a previous attempt by Congress to interfere in the gasoline market.
"Many in Congress are looking to provide Americans with relief at the gas pump, but raising taxes on the oil industry is not the way to do it," Lieberman wrote. "The track record for punitive measures like the windfall profits tax shows that they usually harm consumers along with the targeted industry."
The April 1 CBS "Early Show" also went after oil companies, questioning why they're "raking in huge profits."
"If gas prices seem painfully high right now, you're absolutely right. They just hit a new record," CBS correspondent Chip Reid said. "It's no wonder drivers are angry. The price of gas is burning holes in their pockets. According to AAA, the average price of unleaded regular has hit a new high, just under $3.29 a gallon. Only a year ago it was $2.67 a gallon. That's up 25 percent, an annual increase that AAA calls staggering. And it comes at a time when oil companies are raking in huge profits."
Executives from ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), Shell (LON:RDSA) and BP [British Petroleum] (LON:BP) were all scheduled to testify before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming - the committee set up by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that has no legislative authority.