I had been reading about Obama's calling for new oil pipelines when Big Freddy showed up wearing shorts that stopped somewhere between his knees and ankles.
"Where on earth did you find those?" I asked.
"Made them," Freddy said.
"You made them?" I asked.
"Tailor did," Freddy said. "I tore the right knee putting my pants on. It was 80 degrees outside, so I figured, waste not."
"But why so long?" I asked. "Didn't want to be picked up for indecent exposure maybe?"
"Enough with the pants," Freddy said. "You want to go with the why and wherefores, ask yourself why our president just went all the way to Oklahoma for show time, big-time, by standing next to some oil line pipes to call for building pipelines all the way to the Gulf."
"Because he's been taking heat from the rising prices at the pump," I said.
"Correct," Freddy said. "Way back when the Republican wannabes started their campaign marathon, what we heard day in, day out, was 9-9-9 from Herman Cain. What we're hearing now are predictions of 5-5-5 at the gas pump. That's giving people fits, so all of a sudden, there's Obama out in Oklahoma for a show-and-tell for a new pipeline to the Gulf."
"But he's only going halfway from the major supply," I said. "No way he's going to let them hook up with what's available in Canada because of legitimate environmental concerns."
"There are all kinds of concerns," Freddy said. "Digging anywhere gives environmentalists a bad case of political hives. But it's political crunch time, and Obama has to do what he's got to do."
"But why all this in Oklahoma?" I asked. "That's the middle of what could be the pipeline coming from Canada. That's where all the major supply of oil is, but he put his foot down against it."
"Not all the oil," Freddy said. "The town of Cushing has the world's biggest oil storage facility. The tank farm has 46.3 million barrels of it from major companies, but oil refineries are down on the Gulf Coast. The problem is there's no pipeline to get it there, and that means building one from Cushing."
"But he's going to have to see to it that what's going to be done will be environmentally correct," I said.
"Which is going to take a lot longer than next November to figure out," Freddy said.
"So, your point is what?" I asked.
"He's there for political cover in the middle of the game," Freddy said. "No way what he's calling for can be anything more than a hope and a prayer that will take the edge off of the threat of 5-5-5 at the pump, but he'll take what he can get. His favorable ratings have been dropping back into the lower 40s."
"Not everywhere," I said.
"Wherever," Freddy said. "It's a message for the oil companies, and they'll take what they can get. Half a loaf is better than no loaf. Even with the best of support, getting a pipeline that runs clear into Canada? We should live so long. He knows that. He also knows the economy seems to be getting its nose out of the pits. It's still a reach to November. Maybe that's time enough. Not everybody's hurting, and he's doing what he can to get people hoping what they're beginning to see is light at the end of the tunnel,"
"So?" I asked. "Enough with the 5-5-5?"
"Not for those who want him gone," Freddy said. "But for everyone else, 4-4-4 might get the job done for him, and 3-3-3 would be a sure winner."
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Bill Plante is former executive editor of Essex County Newspapers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.