During an interview about the progress of the war in Iraq some months ago, Vice President Cheney was reminded that a recent poll had shown that two-thirds of Americans thought the war was no longer worth fighting.

He famously replied, "So?"

Asked to explain his reaction, he said, "You cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."

From this incident alone, we think it's safe to say this is not an administration that is going to change course on energy policy between now and the inauguration of the next president.

Business travel advocate Kevin Mitchell and retired American CEO Bob Crandall have nevertheless launched a letter-writing campaign, the goal of which is to have President Bush call for a special session of Congress to forge a new energy policy. 

With six months to go before this administration leaves office, and with a hostile majority in Congress, this has to be the mother of all long shots. Crandall himself admits that there's only about a zero to 1% chance that anything will come of this.

So why bother?

We have only one answer. Despite the apparent futility of this effort, it might have value to the extent it gets a debate going, gets people talking.

There are several things we'd like to change about the Bush-Cheney energy policy. We would prefer more emphasis on conservation and energy efficiency. We would like the government to offer more support for the development of alternate fuels and renewable energy sources.

We believe the federal government should be more active in fostering research into new technologies, building practices and manufacturing techniques that use less energy or use it more wisely.

For the past seven-and-a-half years, however, popular sentiment to change those things has been met with the political equivalent of "So?"

We hold out no hope that the last half-year will be any different. 

Win, lose or reboot

When the Independent Arbitration Panel invalidated ARC's 2008 fee increase, the common perception was that agents had won and ARC had lost.

That's a fair way of putting it. It was, after all, an adversary situation. The case was tried on the basis that the panel had only two choices: rule for the agents or rule for ARC. Yes or no. Up or down.

But while this was a win for the agency community, and a big one, it would be a mistake to say, "Game over."

In effect, the decision merely means that ARC has to regroup and reboot.

For some time, ARC's management has been claiming that shifting more of its costs from airlines to agents would make the ARC/agency channel more attractive to airlines, enhancing its value for all.

It was a clever argument, but ARC will have to do better next time. From where we sit, it's far from proven that the agency channel needs to be any more attractive or cost-effective than it already is.

ARC-accredited locations deliver some $75 billion in annual revenue to the airlines, excluding taxes, and ARC operates on what is believed to be a fraction of 1% of that $75 billion. That, in our view, ought to cover it. 

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