I think this is just the wake up call... and call me paranoid, but I think a large portion of the "oil crisis" is being manipulated by the government. (ok, conspiracy theorists attack).
The fact is, we as a working economy are dependent on a finite resource. The earth is not producing new deposits of oil. What we have is what we get. Electric cars have been available for 20 years or more (Yes the have / had serious issues), but without a demand curve, there was no cost incentive to improve the existing designs, and to do the R & D on new alternatives.
People bitch about the "oil" president. But I don't underestimate him or his staff. If he personally has to be the scape goat for the rising oil prices, but the end result is a number of new viable technologies for replacing our dependancey on gasoline and other Petroleum products. I think he'd take the hit on personal approval to save the future for his kids.
My mother drives a Honda civic Hybrid, she's had it about 6 weeks now, and is averaging (city and highway) 47 mpg - while running her air conditioning. yes it's a more expensive car. Society as a whole wouldn't have considered the cost reasonable before the current crisis. But she had to wait 7 weeks and put a significate down payment just to get this car becuase demand is currently out stripping supply in Michigan. When they marry the current Hybrid vehicles with the Multi-fuel engine, we'll have cars getting 35-40 mpg (the ethanol is slightly less efficient), but only 15% of that energy will be comming from oil. (the other 85 % from any starchy vegetable - the US currently uses Corn, but one of the south american countries exclusively uses sugar cane) 70% of the population switches to a hybrid / ethanol vehicle, we could run our ecomony solely on the petroleum deposits owned buy the US on soverign soil.
Before the current crisis, the public wasn't paying any attention to this, but we were rapidly using up a finite resource. Now we're aware of the options, and with fuel prices this high, willing to invest in the R & D necessary to make them truely functional. Whether this is a natural development, or a government conspiracy to do what's best of us... it could explain why the gov't is looking the other way on current oil company profits... in another decade or so...they won't be the ones in control... and they won't have the product we need. :2cents: