The REAL Price of Oil
From Walter Shapiro's Salon review of State of Denial by Bob Woodward:
[Sen. Chuck] Hagel's original warning to Bush that he was being "bubbled" (a wonderful verb) on Iraq fits with the familiar portrait of a dangerously out-of-touch president.
But, elsewhere in his narrative, Woodward provides compelling evidence that the real problem may be worse -- the rogue's gallery of outside advisors who do have regular unmediated access to the president. It is not accidental that "State of Denial" begins with a reprise of the Bush family's intimate relationship with a former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar. At the instruction of his father (Bush 41), Bush (soon to be 43) met with Bandar in 1997 and confided, "I'm thinking of running for president ... And I don't have the foggiest idea about what I think about international foreign policy." You do not have to be a Michael Moore-style conspiracy theorist to find it worrisome that a Saudi prince is put in charge of giving a future president his worldview.
Bandar, who may now be much more willing to go public with Woodward since he has returned home to Saudi Arabia, keeps popping up in the narrative in chilling ways. The administration's infamous rendition policy ... may have begun shortly after 9/11 when Bush told Bandar, "If we get somebody and we can't get them to cooperate, we'll hand them over to you."
The book also describes Bandar's Oval Office meeting in early 2004 with Bush, Condi Rice (then the national security advisor) and White House chief of staff Andrew Card (another source, since he has now left the administration). Bush, Woodward writes, "thanked Bandar for what the Saudis were doing on oil -- essentially flooding the market and trying to keep the price as low as possible. [Bush] expressed appreciation for the policy and the impact it could have during the election year."