Published on Friday, June 30, 2000 in the New York Times
Nader Criticizes Clinton-Gore Energy Policies
by James Dao
WASHINGTON, June 29 -- Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and Green Party candidate for president, sharply criticized the Clinton-Gore administration's energy policies today, asserting that the administration had set the stage for higher gasoline prices this summer by allowing oil company mergers in recent years.

Addressing what has become one of the hottest issues in the presidential race, Mr. Nader said the administration was doing "too little, too late" about high gasoline prices by having the Federal Trade Commission investigate possible price gouging by the oil industry.

He said a much broader investigation by the Justice Department and state attorneys general was warranted. He also called for increasing the nation's oil reserves and taxing oil companies' profits found to be excessive.

"They massage the public with rhetoric and they don't do anything," Mr. Nader said of the administration.

Mr. Nader, who is expected to draw most of his support from among Democrats, also ridiculed the energy proposals unveiled by Vice President Al Gore this week. Mr. Gore, the likely Democratic nominee, called for tax breaks and other financial incentives to encourage people to buy, and companies to develop, fuel-efficient cars, solar homes and other energy-saving products.

Speaking at a breakfast with reporters, Mr. Nader called the proposals rehashes of wrong-headed ideas. He asserted, for instance, the administration's efforts to encourage Detroit to build alternative-fuel cars had accomplished very little, at a cost of $1 billion to taxpayers.

"This is probably the most one-sided deal ever in Washington history," he said.

Mr. Nader went on to label Mr. Gore "an environmental imposter" and a "gee-whiz techno twit" who had all but abandoned poor and working-class people in favor of corporate America, with its big campaign contributions.

Despite his attacks on Mr. Gore, Mr. Nader argued that his candidacy would be good for Democratic Congressional candidates because he would draw Democratic-leaning voters to the polls. And he took a few shots at Gov. George W. Bush, the likely Republican nominee.

"The problem with George W. Bush is that he's beyond satire," Mr. Nader said. "He's the corporate welfare king of all presidential candidates."

Asked what he says to those who consider his positions extreme, Mr. Nader replied that it was the corporate "criminals" and "freeloaders" who were the extremists.

"All these positions that I foster are just normal, old-fashioned positions," he said. A native of Connecticut, he added, "They are the kind of positions that people in New England used to take as a matter of course."

Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company