By Reed Black
Staff reporter, "Land Line Now"

There was this kid in my sixth grade class named Joey. He called his dog “Gotcha.”

One day Joey told the teacher he’d done his homework – but Gotcha ate it.

Gotcha also made Joey late to class by eating his alarm clock, repeatedly.

We voted Joey “Least Likely to Succeed” but learned years later that he’d become a high-paid apologist – I mean “analyst” for the oil industry.

He was widely credited, for example, for being the first industry analyst to link a seemingly unaccountable spike in U.S. gas prices to a smoldering fire in a trash can in the ladies room at a refinery in Botswana.

More recently, Joey – or one of his compatriots – came up with a couple of real whoppers.

One, reported in The New York Times, was that fuel shortages (hence high prices) could become permanent because of the increasing use of biodiesel and ethanol. Never mind that big oil hasn’t built a new refinery in the U.S. in 30 years.

The other whopper, reported by Bloomberg, was that even though fuel inventories were recently up – which would normally push prices down – the prices continued to climb because speculators feared the inventories would go down again.

Say HUH? Never mind that it’s been estimated that speculators add $5 to $10 to the cost of every barrel of oil.

My guess, though, is that Joey is saving his best for last.

I figure that once the poor ol’ big oil companies are on their knees because soybeans and canola oil are running them out of business and big oil can only respond by raising prices to $5 a gallon, Joey will uncork the big one at a press conference.

Joey: “Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to announce that, due to the complete devastation of our refinery in South Swampland, we are forced to raise prices right through the ceiling.”

Reporter: “What caused the devastation?”

Joey: “Well … see … it was this dog named Gotcha.”