ST. LOUIS • Local drivers on Friday will have a chance to fill up on some cheap gas—and, critics allege, even cheaper politics.
“The Gas Can Man,” a creation of the conservative lobbying group Americans for Prosperity, will be at the Alcorn Service Station at 5470 S. Lindbergh Blvd. on Friday, offering gasoline at $1.84 per gallon (limit, 10 gallons) to the first 150 vehicles that arrive starting at 8 a.m.
That price, $1.84, was the average cost of gas in January 2009, when President Barack Obama was sworn into office. Gas is now running over $3.50 a gallon in much of St. Louis, and higher in much of the country, a development that AFP blames on Obama.
"We're talking about Obama's failed energy policies and looking for a way to highlight that," said Patrick Werner, AFP's Missouri state director. He said similar events are being planned for St. Charles and Kansas City.
Other such events elsewhere have been attended by a character dressed as a walking gas can. Werner said there were no current plans to do that here, though he added that that could change.
Americans for Prosperity is a powerful lobbying group founded with backing of energy moguls David and Charles Koch, pushing conservative causes and pro-oil policies.
“. . . We’re out to educate people on the harmful aspects of the President’s big-government agenda, and put grassroots pressure on politicians to turn away from these policies,” the group says in a web posting about a “gas can man” event in Michigan earlier this month.
Progressive groups like Media Matters for America have pushed back on the campaign around the country, saying it's an oil industry shill masquerading as a pro-consumer movement.
“. . . Big Oil interests [are] behind a group offering cheap gas in the state this week to mislead voters about Obama's energy policies, including the false claim that the administration's energy policies are responsible for high gas prices,” Media Matters says in a post calling attention to a similar event in Nevada last month. “. . . These groups are pushing policies that will benefit the Koch empire, not American consumers.”
The issue of gas prices has come up sporadically in the presidential campaign this year, with Republican nominee Mitt Romney and others blaming Obama's “green” energy focus and other policies for the price spikes. Obama's defenders maintain that presidents don't have the power to control oil prices that are set by a global market.
When the issue arose in Tuesday's presidential debate, Obama argued that part of the reason gas prices were so low at the end of the presidency of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, was that the economy was in a freefall, taking some commodity prices down with it.