First of all, I'm really pleased to see my fellow Atlantan posting at Balloon Juice. I don't know Michael D. (that I know of, anyway), but he's a really good writer. Today he heralds rising gas prices as the only mechanism to bring new and cheaper fuel sources on line for us demanding Americans, and he's exactly right.
During the first Gulf War, I always thought that George H.W. Bush should have used the occasion to announce a Manhattan Project for alternative fuel sources. It seemed the perfect occasion to note that the Middle East is not a place where it's good to do business, that the governments of the region are no one's friend, and that we would spend the cash to find a way to credibly opt out of their system. But I was fifteen and idealistic and certainly didn't have my family fortune tied into what the oil companies and war machines needed in any given moment.
So now, a decade and a half later, with my own personal climate changing before everyone's eyes, the much prized "market forces" (which are always susceptible to manipulation by those with their own substantial enough market force) are pushing for ad hoc approaches to change the game. It's overdue and it's welcome, however much it hurts to fill up the tank. It's also an object lesson for future leaders, who perhaps will actually lead when there is such an obvious confluence of problems surrounding such a key resource.