One is an anomaly...
Two is a trend.
Ron Wyden is doing a live filibuster right now to get a vote on "royalty relief." The program essentially subsidizes oil companies whenever the price of crude reaches above $50 a barrel (where it will be for roughly the next 100 million years, so it's a permanent subsidy). Wyden wants a vote on an amendment to eliminate royalty relief.
This is about as smart as you can get, forcing a vote which puts Republicans in the uncomfortable position of supporting Big Oil while gas prices are skyrocketing. I'm sure that if there's a vote, they'll start some kabuki like "if passed, this amendment would raise the price of gas!" but everyone can plainly see whose side everyone is on. The issue here is corporate welfare. It's as simple as that.
This comes on the heels of Nancy Pelosi's fantastic, common sense rant the other day. Democrats smell blood in the water and for once they're not shrinking from the fight.
UPDATE: I was a little vague in what the Wyden Amendment would actually accomplish. It actually subidizes Big Oil no matter what the price. "Royalty relief" allows oil companies to explore and drill on federal land without paying full royalties to the federal government. This includes off-shore exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. This was put in place in the last Energy Bill to incent companies to exlpore for oil and gas. With the price of oil so high, there should be absolutely no reason to do this; companies want to drill because there's enormous profits to be made. The Wyden Amendment would cap "royalty relief" as long as the price of oil is over $55 a barrel (which, as I said, is "always"). He adds an exemption when relief is needed to avoid disruptions in supply.
My calling it corporate welfare was right (let's help out the poor oil companies), but I had the structure a little muddled.
Wyden, for his part, is still on the floor of the Senate. He's been there over 5 hours.
UPDATE II: Wyden yielded the floor. Still, he proved his point. The Rubber Stamp Republican Congress can't help falling in love with Big Oil.
UPDATE III: What a whiner Sen. Domenici is.
Domenici had interrupted Wyden's introduction of an amendment under the pretense that he was attempting to ask a question. Rather, he blasted the Senator's plan, after doing so announcing, "I just violated the rules! I didn't ask a question, I gave a speech. I hope you listened."
"I just violated the rules" should be the '06 GOP campaign slogan.