Importing foreign oil

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This guy Bob Schieffer did a nice little webcast tonight with a couple of friends, and I think it was covered on tv too. Maybe you watched? Or read a transcript, even? Anyhow, Bob, he says:

… we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil. When Nixon said it, we imported from 17 to 34 percent of our foreign oil. Now, we're importing more than 60 percent.

And I'm like, yeah, I can accept that last claim. An understatement, if anything. But what I can't figure out is what he says about Nixon. Foreign oil is one of those things that's sort of like didgeridoos, communism, and extraterrestrials, at least in this respect: they come from somewhere else.

So where the hell did Tricky Dicky find between 66 and 83 percent of his nation's foreign oil if he didn't import it?


  1. Victoria Martin said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 3:53 am

    Presumably, with oil consumption being so much lower back then, 66-83% of the nation's oil wasn't so much that the American oilfields couldn't cover it. Whereas with increasing demand, it became necessary to buy in more from abroad.

  2. outeast said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 4:41 am

    I think you missed the joke, VM. If it's foreign oil, it must have been imported by definition.

  3. WindowlessMonad said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 4:45 am

    @Victoria: that Whoosh! you just heard was a joke passing overhead…

  4. Yuval said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 4:56 am

    I'm guessing he stole it.

  5. Karen said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 5:57 am

    That Nixon was a clever, clever man.

  6. Peter said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 6:18 am

    Although… it's not the case that all oil owned and used by the USA need enter the USA. It's presumably not what Schieffer meant, but Nixon could have bought foreign oil from foreign refineries, had a proportion of it delivered directly to the US armed forces stationed abroad for their use there, and only ended up bringing a certain percentage of his foreign oil into the USA itself.

  7. Sili said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 9:49 am

    Next you'll be ranting against "pilotless drones".

  8. J said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 10:07 am

    Maybe the US didn't request the foreign oil – they just sent it to us unasked?

  9. William Boot. said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

    He drank their milkshakes, obviously.

  10. Michael W. said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

    Maybe those "What's our oil doing under their sand?" bumper stickers weren't too far off the mark after all.

  11. mgh said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

    obviously, we imported the rest when Nixon didn't say it

  12. Durf said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 4:58 am

    Well obviously, in addition to the oil that we imported, there was a bunch of oil that other people exported to us. Whole different ball game here.

  13. Glazius said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

    We didn't really bother importing oil from Canada and Mexico, they just ran pipelines across the border and said "you guys take as much as you need, the meter's running".

  14. Paul said,

    October 20, 2008 @ 12:29 am

    Could be one of those Enron style scams going on there… maybe it's resold back to the source for a higher price and then sold again elsewhere. You see, when playing the commodities market, what you really buy is futures. So whatever portion of the futures contracts that are not actually delivered domestically accoutns for the discrepency in numbers. I may not import any of my foreign pork bellies.

    OK, really, yes, good joke, but never misunderestimate the subtle meanings that are conveyed by an economic discussion. You may be surprised to learn that something that sounds like jibberish to most folks makes perfect sense to someone involved in the racket.

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