Energy Sec Who Laughed About Gas Prices Appeared in Music Video About Leaving 'Fossil Fools' 'In the Ground'


This month, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm made news by laughing when asked what “the Granholm plan to increase oil production in America” was.

The laugh didn’t seem particularly funny to average Americans who don’t own a Tesla or who aren’t ferried around on the federal government’s dime like Jennifer Granholm is. It also indicated our energy secretary wasn’t particularly concerned about the cost of the particular form of energy that hits home most for families — oil.

Well, now you can have the last laugh — literally — while having your worst fears about Granholm’s priorities confirmed.

A recently unearthed 2018 music video by the environmentalist group Coltura — which says on its website that its”vision is a gasoline-free America by 2040 or sooner” — featured Granholm and others talking about how “fossil fools” (get it?) need to be left “in the ground.”

Granholm’s appearance in “Gasoline, Gasoline (The World’s Aflame)” flew under the radar at the time, likely because Granholm hadn’t held office in over seven years when it came out. (She was a two-term governor of Michigan from 2003 until 2011.)

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However, NPR mentioned her participation during an interview with Matthew Metz of Coltura that aired Monday afternoon on “All Things Considered.”

The piece discussed how Coltura was now helping write legislation when, “just a few years ago, its main tools in that fight were things like break-up-themed music videos” such as “Gasoline, Gasoline (The World’s Aflame)” and “performance art.”

“We did what’s called the Ghosts of Gasoline — actors that were dressed up in their white bodysuits with hoses and nozzles,” Metz told NPR.

Oh, that’ll sway us. NPR’s Camila Domonoske noted, at the end of the four-minute piece, that the song “featured a cameo from a woman with a blonde bob, enthusiastically lip-syncing along about the urgent need to give up gasoline. That was Jennifer Granholm, better known today as the secretary of energy.”

Unsurprisingly, it went mostly unheard at the time. Coltura’s YouTube channel has only 56 subscribers, and the video has garnered a bit fewer than 50,000 views as of Wednesday morning.

Most of those views seem to have come since NPR revealed Granholm’s participation, however; an Oct. 16 snapshot of the YouTube page, cataloged at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, shows only 5,915 views.

Those 44,000 other people probably wish they hadn’t seen it, either, unless they wanted a bad laugh.

The song begins with a synthesizer and beat straight out of a 1980’s Pet Shop Boys song. A sample in the same vein plays over it: “The love affair with gasoline is ending / Soaring costs … forcing drivers / Abandon gas-powered, gas-powered.”

And then the actual singing begins, which makes you wish they’d stuck with the samples: “You took me for a ride, and now we’re lost / I’m choking on your pollution trip / You’re making me cough / You’re turning me off / I’m breaking this relationship.”

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The chorus: “Gasoline, gasoline / You’re driving me insane / Gasoline, gasoline / The world’s aflame / Gasoline, gasoline / I found someone new / Someone better / Better than you.”

“You fossil fool, I reject your rule / We gotta leave you in the ground,” the song continues, noting that “countries are racing to phase out gasoline cars” because, inter alia, our “sea levels are rising” and “our children are crying.”

In short, this was a lot better when it sounded like a knockoff Pet Shop Boys track.

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If only people had seen this dreck before the NPR interview, they would have noticed Granholm’s celebrity cameo mentioned prominently in the credits for “Gasoline, Gasoline (The World’s Aflame)” along with environmentalist Bill McKibben. (Greta Thunberg hadn’t garnered widespread attention yet, I guess.)

It’s pretty hilarious they got both a former governor of Michigan and a well-known environmentalist to appear in the video, which represents the antithesis of both coolness and listenability.

It’s less funny when you realize we now have an energy secretary who appeared in a video about leaving oil “in the ground” and “racing to phase out gasoline cars,” particularly given high gas prices and Granholm’s infamous cackle.

Just in case you forgot the moment, Granholm was on Bloomberg TV earlier this month when host Tom Keene noted the soaring price of gas.

“In Sturgis, Michigan, it is $2.89 a gallon,” Keene said. “I guess that’s better than in California. What is the Granholm plan to increase oil production in America?”

She laughed, collected herself and said, “That is hilarious.”

“Would that I had the magic wand on this,” Granholm continued. “As you know, of course, oil is a global market. It is controlled by a cartel. That cartel is called [the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries]. And they made a decision yesterday that they were not going to increase beyond what they were already planning.”

Granholm’s laugh was one among several “let them eat cake”-isms by members of President Joe Biden’s administration that signaled they weren’t taking inflation seriously. The president himself had waved off inflation as temporary during the spring and summer, and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain retweeted a Harvard economist who called supply chain issues a “high class” problem.

This is to say nothing of the fact the administration has been waving plenty of wands to stop oil production. On day one of his administration, the president canceled the permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline project. Biden has tried to suspend new leases for drilling on federal lands and ax permits already awarded in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

In other words, the “Granholm plan to increase oil production in America” was made clear in a wretched music video three years ago: don’t increase it, leave it “in the ground.”

If only one of the 5,000-odd people who watched that awful video before she became energy secretary could have warned us.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture