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bill IS sometimes right...

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Nothing to do with engineering, about oil and energy, a subject I love studying and discussing. It is a Saturday so you can just delete it.... Non political.
First, lets differentiate between energy sources and uses. We use gas in our cars, trucks, SUVs, semis, planes, etc. This comes from OIL. BUT, and this is good news, our electricity is mostly from coal (we have S-loads!),  natural gas, nuke, hyrdo, solar, wind, geo... And maybe a little oil (off the top of my head). We have TONS of options of how we can make juice, and this seems to be the most promising, since we can expand the renewables infinitely. We have the solar capacity in New Mexico to supply the WORLD with electricity. But right now we are up in arms about GAS PRICES since we sort of like going places quickly. And for this we have to import TONS of oil, and as a result, a QUARTER of our trade imbalance is from OIL. I also urge you to look up energy and oil facts on the Dept of Energy's website, it has lots of facts we can all agree on, except for the conspiracy theorist types who believe our governement is constantly lying to us, and hey man, I am not even going to argue with that logic. You may be right!
Bill does proudly exalt the far right of our political system, manytimes in a confrontational and abrasive way (but that is just his style)... As an independent moderate of sorts, I listen to what everyone has to say and then make up my own mind, and it usually ends up being a blend of right and left wing. I can watch Bill O-Reilly and Olberman, listen to a little Rush though his personality drives me nuts, and laugh at Bill Maher's jokes. I am not invested in a party or specific ideal so I am not on the defense. As engineers we are fact finders, this is not much of a subjective profession, so why not take some of those traits into our own political analysis? It is not about name calling and labeling such as right wing bible thumpers (I have many family members that would fit into this category), or left wing Al Gore loving tree hugging hippy liberals....
I do not like the price of gas either. We all make choices on where we live and work, how much we drive, and what we drive (big cars, trucks and SUVs are nice), and where we drive to. Nobody made you buy that oversized house in the suburbs 30 miles from the office. So we have a HUGE say in our consumption. I agree, we have little control over how much the price of gas affects the products we buy as they all take energy to get to our homes.
Oil companies are not evil, this is not Standard Oil or the Pullman Cart or Carnegie Steel robber barron era. They are American and foreign engineers, scientists, oil rig workers, office workers, etc. They provide a commodity we all need at an arguably fair market price. They are heavily regulated and taxed, and yes they have polluted and they continue to pollute, they deal with a nasty product that WE WANT. They should be punished when their tankers run aground, the same way paper companies, auto mfrs , anybody who pollutes should be held accountable.Taxing their profits to make us feel better about our conspiracy theories and the high price of gas would in the end make gas more expensive, as they would not have as much money to put back into their companies in the form of finding more oil. Then we should tax Bill Gates windfall profits everytime he comes up with another version of Windows we were all dying to have, but now must buy or it will be incompatible or obsolete or whatever. Tax the pharm. companies heavily everytime they make millions off that new life saving drug they spent millions researching and developing. Capitalism and free market systems do not do well with government tinkering and heavy handeness as Bill P. pointed out.
Oil companies do not have secret meetings with Bush, Cheney, Haliburton, and the Devil and figure out how to gouge Americans and fix the price of gas. Most of the companies "windfall profits" were less than 10% profit annually, a number which many other industries meet or exceed annually. They are huge companies so 10% of billions is billions, which sounds like a ot. It is their goal to make money as a company, and they owe it to us as shareholders. Oh, you don't own an oil company? Check your mutual or index funds in your 401k or IRA, I bet you do. Who on this list who owns their own business did not beat 10% last year in profits? Are you feeling guilty about that? Plan on sending checks back to some of those architects or send some into the US Govt because of your windfall.
Don't get me wrong, I am a big supporter of environmental stewardship and conservation, but I am also a realist. There is a lot of hyporcrisy in the environmental movement, and sometimes their extreme policies do more harm than good (such as the horribly managed forest systems). But you cannot let that drown out the overall message which to me is lets protect our natural resources and make this planet better for our kids. Also, from a right wing pro-business way of thinking, we all need a functional and healthy environment or we cannot have any business, as we must have water, air, food, etc. and cannot live in a sterile, dead environment.  I think we can do this without sending the whole global economy spiraling downwards. But there was a great article on how dirty China has become due to its industrialization, and many of the world's most polluted cities are there. The US and Europe have offshored a lot of our own pollution their, but air pollution affects the entire globe. And this will be a huge struggle for China to balance their desire to become an overnight economic sensation and not destroying their environment. The big question and debate Bill brought up that we must all continue to debate, is how much should be government mandated and how much should be left to the consumer to demand from its companies?