Hell has broken free tonight, No pale deception anymore. You awoke him, now he will feed on the lies. He demands your sacrifice.
I have the day marked in my memory: It was Dec. 17, 2011.
That was the day I stopped at a gas-'n-sip in east Alabama and paid $1.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. I don't expect to pay less than $2 again in my lifetime, so I've mentally preserved the moment.
I look on that date with particular sadness because I was one of those naive people who believed once former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George W. Bush's incestuous ties with Big Oil were severed, the price of gasoline in this country would end its scary rise. I foolishly believed BP and ExxonMobil and Chevron's slimy tentacles would retract as soon as their BFFs slinked out of office.
I, like so many others, underestimated the reach of those tentacles. And I foolishly believed the new young president who came sweeping into office on promises of change and accountability would be immune to the lure of all those Big Oil dollars.
Sadly, though, as President Obama and key members of his administration have filled their pockets and campaign chests with the unending supply of petro dollars, those of us who believed change was coming have had to accept a large dose of business as usual. Change in the way the oil companies do business, it has become apparent, cannot overcome all those zeroes on campaign checks.
As gasoline prices yo-yo their way up and down locally -- $3.27 today, $3.42 tomorrow, $3.54 the next day, and then back to $3.42 -- heading, experts tell us, inexorably toward $4 a gallon by springtime, I've listened with interest to the complaints. Many, who are tired of planning their trips to the gas pump around the daily commodities futures reports, have simply given up.
"We're going to pay whatever they charge us," they say resignedly. "They know we can't do without gas."
Others, though, the ones whose anger is stirred with every overnight 16-cent increase, offer what they perceive to be simple solutions. They range from "Drill, baby, drill ..." to "Explore, baby, explore ..." to the more radical "Bomb, baby, bomb ..."
These are the people who support a Canadian-based, Chinese-owned pipeline running the depth of our country, through environmentally fragile aquifers, just in the hopes that some of the gas produced from the venture ends up at their corner 7-11.
And these are the people who offer such sentiments as "too bad" when oil workers lose their lives in an offshore explosion and an entire ecosystem is devastated, species endangered or wiped out and commercial fishermen whose families have harvested the Gulf of Mexico for generations left without livelihood.
For this group, there is only one answer to America's oil gluttony: More, more, more.
We are, by God, the United States of America. And if we need more oil to fuel our 15-mile-a-gallon SUVs or our 6-mile-a-gallon Hummers, then we are entitled to it. (Note to those who discuss with disgust the "entitlement mentality" of America's inner cities: Where do we suppose this concept of U.S. entitlement originated?)
Here's a bit of reality that history offers: We can drill, baby, drill and explore, baby, explore all we want. That's not going to drop the price of gasoline at the pump more than a few cents a gallon. When it comes to greed, the politicians who stuff their pockets -- and freezers -- with legalized bribe money cannot hold a candle to the oil companies. The more oil they sell, the more they're going to promote the exploitation of emerging nations to sink their hooks into them.
A little note for those of you naive enough to think American oil companies are concerned about supplying domestic consumers' fuel needs: Check into America's list of top exports last year, when we were all fretting about gas price increases and foreign dependency. The No. 1 product in dollars exported by our country last year? Oil.
There is a way, though, we could beat Big Oil at its own game. We could cut back on our usage, create a glut in the market that would force the oil companies and even the petro gods in OPEC to cut prices. Sure, they would balk at first, but the bottom line is that they can only store so much oil. And they can't drink it.
Of course, that would mean sacrifice on the part of American consumers who don't really have much of a grasp of the concept. Why come up with a little planning to cut the number of trips one makes, carpool, downsize to more fuel-efficient automobiles or demand that industries meet more stringent fuel-saving guidelines when it's easier to complain, blame others or just give in?
Bottom line, the only way to bring the cost of fossil fuels down in this country is to invest in new technology that will lessen our dependence or cut consumption. Those, unfortunately, are choices that require collective action on the part of Americans. Which essentially makes that $4 gas inevitable.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.