Flashback: Watch People React To Gas Prices 14 Years Ago

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(CBSNews)- Jump into your DeLorean and set the date for July 20, 2000. We dug up a story from that day by CBS News correspondent John Blackstone, examining the “roller coaster” ride that gas prices were on at the time. It makes for an interesting comparison to the situation currently unfolding.

Oil prices have tumbled in recent weeks leading to photos like the one below showing gas at under $2.00. That price created a sticker shock on our Instagram page – in a good way, considering many Americans haven’t seen these prices in years.

Flash back in time and you’ll see that Americans were complaining about having to pay $2.00 a gallon.

“It takes a lot out of your wallet,” one San Francisco driver complained to Blackstone.

“We won’t take a driving vacation this summer,” another told him.

At the time, gas consumption had dropped nationwide for the first time in five years. But it was on the uptick, thanks in part to a growing economy and the fact that “Americans have embraced SUVs with their hungry gas tanks,” according to Blackstone.

So what were the solutions, if any, at the time? Blackstone heard at least one idea from Gavin Newsom, a local politician in San Francisco who is now the Lieutenant Governor of California.

Newsom, who had railed against high gas prices, decided to do something about it by buying an electric car — GM’s Jetsons-looking EV 1. The purchase was his way of sticking it to the gas companies.

“Yeah forget it, tough luck,” Newsom said. “I’m sick of the rhetoric, the excuses, the supply and demand models, and world supply of oil and I’m sick of paying upwards of $2.00 a gallon.”

Blackstone called Newsom’s new ride “an unusual vehicle” before stating that many more would show up on California’s roads thanks to a new law that would require at least 200,000 low emission vehicles for sale by 2003.

But Blackstone was quick to point out that gas guzzling vehicles were still king of the road, leading him to make a prediction that turned out to be spot on.

“Still, with more than 200 million gas burning cars in America, gas prices are likely to keep driving us crazy for years to come.”

And that’s the way it was on Thursday, July 20, 2000.


  • Robert T. Drake

    Electric cars – another liberal hoax that has failed. These cars aren’t as “green” as the con artists claim.

  • Harold

    And now the electric company monopoly is trying to take away our use of solar energy.
    It’s always about the money. Working American people are broke. There’s no more middle class! Pass the Gas!!!

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