The Washington Times - August 6, 2008, 09:43AM

Barack Obama said drivers could save as much oil by inflating their tires and tuning up their automobiles as could be produced by expanded offshore drilling. The McCain folks mocked that, saying tire inflation isn’t a substitute for an energy policy.

Obama then called Republicans ignorant, and Republicans said Obama was getting testy.

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So now, PolitiFact.com says Obama’s claim about energy savings is “within the realm of possibility”, and an activist group has dug up a 1990 article from The Washington Times that says then-President George H.W. Bush, during that year’s oil price shock, also called for tire inflation as part of a broad energy strategy.

It’s worth noting that the 1990 article is clear that the Bush administration wanted a full range of options, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — something both Obama and John McCain oppose.

It’s also interesting that the article includes a quote from Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, warning of outrage if oil companies showed large profits — exactly the same argument Democrats are still making nearly 20 years later.

What that suggests is that despite forays into ethanol and promises of miracle alternative energy, the energy debate really hasn’t changed much at all over the past two decades. The United States isn’t expanding its production of traditional energy, alternatives remain elusive, foreign oil is still dominant and the politicians are pointing fingers.

So here’s a bright idea worthy of Paris Hilton, the newest entrant into the presidential race: If underinflating tires saps energy, maybe overinflating them will produce energy.

Get the ad campaign started.

Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times