Many politicians are using rising gasoline prices as a weapon in their election campaigns, urging voters to oust the officials they blame for high fuel costs. One such politician is Ryan Zinke, former secretary of the interior under Donald Trump, who is running for Congress in Montana. But Zinke recently found himself in the crosshairs of Twitter users and accused of hypocrisy after he was caught filling his car with premium gas while most voters focus on fuel economy and savings.
Why are gas prices so high?
A projected rise in gas prices is linked to recent increasing costs in oil. The Biden administration has attempted to curb the jump in oil prices by releasing up to 180 million barrels from the country’s emergency reserves over the next six months, but that hasn’t stopped oil prices from continuing to rise.
One factor in a potential continued increase in prices is a proposed European ban on Russian crude oil due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Should such a ban be implemented, the delicate balance of supply and demand would be thrown further out of whack and drive up prices even more.
Twitter users slam Trump’s former interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, for complaining about gas prices
Many politicians have attempted to take advantage of rising gas prices to get an edge at the polls. One such politician is Ryan Zinke, Trump’s former secretary of the interior, who is running for Congress in Montana.
On April 23, Zinke posted a photo on Twitter with a comment lamenting gas prices. The tweet showed the politician pointing to the total price for 30.8 gallons of gas at a pump at an Exxon gas station. He captioned the snap: “$140 to fill the truck today in Polson. Vote.”
But users quickly pointed out problems with the tweet. As the photo showed, Zinke had filled his tank with premium gas, thus exaggerating the cost the average motorist would spend at the pump.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) was among the many critics who called Zinke out for the apparent hypocrisy.
“What did taxpayers pay to fill your pockets, you corrupt creep?” Swalwell remarked. “Spare us the performative [expletive] with your 30-gallon tank and premium fuel.”
Critics also see Ryan Zinke’s California vacation as problematic
The controversy over Zinke’s use of premium fuel to prove his point wasn’t the first time the politician has run into questions regarding his ethics. Not long ago, he was found to have misused his position in the Trump administration to advance a development project in his home district, NPR reported.
In addition, Zinke has faced criticism for campaigning to represent Montana when many people are convinced he’s not a Montana resident. Critics cite the numerous photos on Zinke’s wife’s Instagram feed that locate the couple in Santa Barbara for long stretches of the year.
Politico recently reported that residents of Whitefish, Montana, where Zinke claims to live, have said they rarely see the power couple in town.
The idea that Zinke could be campaigning to represent a district he doesn’t live in has rubbed pundits the wrong way. And they see it as further evidence of the out-of-touch lifestyle that led Zinke to tweet his fuel price commentary while pumping premium gas for his fancy truck.