Bush to Meet With Calif. Governor

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Bush to Meet With Calif. Governor

By Scott Lindlaw Associated Press Writer Wednesday, May 23, 2001; 3:53 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON President Bush will meet next week in power-strapped California with Gov. Gray Davis, a fierce critic of White House energy policy.

The Republican president and the Democratic governor are to meet Tuesday or Wednesday, when Bush visits Camp Pendleton, the Fresno area and Los Angeles. Details remain unresolved, spokesmen for both leaders said.

Davis has stepped up his criticism on Bush in recent days, suggesting during interviews that the administration has ignored price-gouging by Texas-based electricity generators because of Bush's ties to the energy industry.

Bush has avoided being drawn into a war of words. "The president's focus is going to be on solving problems. He's not interested in finger-pointing," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Wednesday.

The governor has sought federal price limits on the electricity that generators sell to California utilities. Bush has rejected the request because he says it would do nothing to increase energy supplies or reduce demand.

California lawmakers sued Tuesday to force federal regulators to cap prices, which have soared from $200 per megawatt hour in December to as much as $1,900 per megawatt hour during peak times since then.

"There's a massive transfer of wealth going on from ordinary citizens in California to Texas," Bush's home state, Davis said recently.

A Field Poll of California voters released Wednesday showed 70 percent of those questioned said the federal government should cap wholesale electricity prices.

Just over half disapprove of the way both Davis and Bush have handled the state's energy crisis, according to a survey this week by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The polls underlined the political stakes in the electricity crisis for both men, and each was eager to claim Wednesday they had initiated the meeting.

Spokesmen for Davis said he had grown impatient waiting for an offer to sit down with Bush, and on Wednesday he released a letter inviting Bush to meet "any time during your visit to our state."

"I look forward to putting ideology aside and working together toward practical solutions and an affordable, independent energy future," Davis wrote.

A short time later, Fleischer told reporters that "the president has invited Governor Davis to meet with him, to get together, to talk about issues important to California, including, of course, energy."

Bush has visited more than half the states, but not California, the most populous, which Democrat Al Gore won by 12 percentage points in the 2000 presidential election.

White House officials have not wanted to be pulled into the energy crisis there, fearing that deeper involvement would lead voters to blame the administration if the situation worsens.

Some of Bush's trip to California Tuesday and Wednesday is tailored to address the energy crisis. He will visit the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, to remind state residents of his order that military facilities in the state cut peak-hour usage by one-tenth.

"The federal government is going to be a strong partner to the state of California in the cause of energy conservation to help ease the burden in California as they go through the summer months, when demand is high and blackouts are most at risk," Fleischer said.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), May 23, 2001


I wonder what Bush thinks he can accopmplish by a meeting with Davis.

With all the conspiracy theories, name calling, and finger pointing by Davis, how could Bush even smile when they meet?

Davis is paranoid, has no rational thoughts on how to solve his state's energy problem, and now sounds like a raving lunatic when talking about it.

If I were Bush I would be sure to have a couple of those men in little white coats, with one of those little coats with no outlets for the hands, ready, in case Davis starts to drool, scream loudly, or otherwise embarrass himself to the point where he must be hauled off to the Rubber Room at the Funny Farm.

-- Wellesley (wellesley@freeport.com), May 23, 2001.

In the 1970s it was Big Oil, now it's Big Energy. Why is it that conspiracy theories abound during times of extreme shortage, when it's only a matter of extreme shortage?

I suppose it's because the political art of scapegoating, to protect's one's rear end, is still in prominent fashion.

-- Billiver (billiver@aol.com), May 23, 2001.

A friend used to work for Governor Davis and says that his is a very mild-mannered, polite man, soft-spoken and attentive to opposing views. She is quite perplexed by his behavior of late.

-- LillyLP (lillyLP@aol.com), May 23, 2001.

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