Tales from the Trail

Obama doesn’t drive, but he feels your pain at the pump

President Barack Obama says he sympathizes with the frustration over high gas prices — even though it’s been a while since he’s had to fill a tank.

“I’ll admit to you, it’s been a while since I … filled up at the pump,” Obama joked during a townhall-style event. “Secret Service doesn’t let me get out, and they don’t let me drive anymore.” USA

The event at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale was part of Obama’s ongoing effort to sell the deficit-reduction plan he introduced last week and gear up for a 2012 re-election campaign.

Gas prices, which hit a 2.5-year-high last week at $3.84 a gallon, have weighed on public opinion in recent months. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll in March found that gas prices were playing into Americans’ low confidence in the U.S. economy, and a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week found rising energy costs hurt Obama’s approval rating.

Obama — who assured his audience that “it wasn’t that long ago that I did have to fill up my gas tank” – blamed speculators and oil companies for price increases and said his administration would investigate unfair practices and monitor gas stations for price-gauging.

Lawmakers question U.S. Postal Service money saving priorities

USA-HOUSING/FORECLOSURESU.S. Postmaster General John Potter says the nation’s mail system faces a “dire” financial future as more people and businesses switch from snail mail to email and electronic funds transfers.

He is asking Congress to give him authority to drop Saturday delivery service and close some post offices.

Those are a couple of money saving possibilities outlined by the Postmaster General at a congressional hearing on Thursday. But the suggested cutback on services did not sit well with a number of members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

So what’s the carbon footprint of a motorcade?

World leaders in New York City for the U.N. General Assembly also bring motorcades, gridlock, and idling engines. GERMANY-AUTOSHOW/

So when White House reporters, also in New York following President Barack Obama around, got a briefing on U.N. climate change talks, the question had to be asked.

CBS’s Mark Knoller wondered about the carbon footprint of the summit: could the earnest statements on climate change be undermined by motorcades, gridlock, idling engines?