Tom Love for Texas
U.S. House District 24

By GROMER JEFFERS Jr. / The Dallas Morning News

James and Donna Williams wondered Tuesday what produced more hot air, the steamy July weather or the politicians gathered at two Dallas gas stations to talk about reducing fuel prices.

Mr. Williams had just put $20 in his Ford Escape at Fuel City on Industrial Boulevard. Back in 2001, that was enough to fill up. Now, a full tank takes nearly $70.

"They need to do something now," said Mr. Williams, a 43-year-old school bus driver from Dallas. "We don't need any more talk. These gas prices are killing the poor."

Ms. Williams looked toward five Democratic candidates for local congressional offices and shouted the only thing that might get drivers interested in the political grandstanding.

"Are they giving away free gas?" she asked.

Tuesday was political grandstand day in Dallas for Democrats and Republicans looking to push their party's plans to bring down the gas prices that are crippling the economy and exacerbating the plight of the poor.

At the newly opened Green Spot Market and Fuels in East Dallas, Republican Sen. John Cornyn urged Congress to adopt a GOP plan for deep-sea exploration in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and in western shale areas.

He pulled up in an aide's Chevy TrailBlazer, which the aide said costs $72 to fill up.

"Why not use more of what God gave us right here in America, rather than buying it from abroad and enriching people who are not friendly to the United States?" Mr. Cornyn said.

Later, at Fuel City, Democratic congressional candidates Tom Daley, Ken Leach, Glenn Melancon, Tom Love, Eric Roberson and Tracey Smith called on Congress to require the identification of all U.S. oil traders to curb improper speculation and increase the oil supply by requiring those holding governmental oil leases to use them or lose them.

The Democrats, all running uphill battles against North Texas Republican incumbents, stood in front of an oil pump and near a small herd of cows and donkeys.

"No more bull," Mr. Roberson said. "It's time to tell the truth about oil. ... American needs solutions, not sound bites."

Problem is, the politics of Big Oil are murky. But as the Republicans and Democrats dueled over media time, area residents were making painful trips to the pump.

The Democrats, for better or worse, helped some customers out – by helping to pump their gas.

"Lower the gas," said Juanita Smith, a 47-year-old Garland homemaker who says she tired of paying close to $100 to fill up a large Isuzu SUV. "They ain't doing nothing about it. All they are doing is talking."

At the Green Spot, 29-year-old Ashley George said elected leaders were too cozy with big oil companies.

The construction manager spends $200 a week to fill up her SUV. She blames taxes on gas.

And she summed up drivers' feelings in many fewer words than the politicians could.

"We're paying too much," she said.

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Kenny Marchant
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