Diplomatically, Mr. Bush's ambitious call for the replacement of 75 percent of the United States' Mideast oil imports with ethanol and other energy sources by 2025 upset Saudi Arabia, the main American oil supplier in the Persian Gulf. In an interview on Wednesday, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal, said he would have to ask Mr. Bush's office "what he exactly meant by that."
Politically, both parties on Capitol Hill displayed a lack of enthusiasm. Democrats said Mr. Bush had opposed foreign oil reduction targets in last year's energy bill, and Republicans questioned the practicality of relying on ethanol and other alternatives.
Scientifically, researchers said ethanol and other alternative fuels were still years away from widespread commercial use.
Economically, energy analysts said Mr. Bush's goal of reducing Mideast oil imports would have little practical benefit because oil was traded in world markets and its price was determined by global supply and demand, rather than bought from one country by another.
"If the United States was zero-dependent on Middle Eastern oil, but the rest of our allies among consuming nations were just as dependent, then a disruption anywhere is a price increase everywhere," said Lawrence Goldstein, the president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, a policy analysis group in New York.
Mr. Bush, like other modern presidents, has talked since the earliest days of his administration about weaning the United States off oil, but mostly by supporting an increase in domestic production. On Wednesday afternoon, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Rush Limbaugh's radio program that the administration would continue to push to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
The difference on Tuesday was Mr. Bush's emphasis on alternative energy sources that he had not made a top focus in the past: better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, hydrogen cars, ethanol from wood and agricultural waste, solar and wind technologies and what he called "clean, safe nuclear energy."
The president's tone was so changed, in fact, that some analysts said he sounded like a Democrat. Dan W. Reicher, who served in the Energy Department during the Clinton administration, said Mr. Bush's ideas showed "an uncanny resemblance" to some Clinton efforts.
That's right- the NY Times tells whether one sounds like a Republican or Democrat from their "tone" not their "content." The "unncanny resemblance," I would wonder, exactly has what kind of relation to the fact that it's a pittance, a negligible effort?
I leave that with you...as psychic George used to say...