Bitter fruit

La Fontaine’s fox, the connoisseur of grapes, was all-French, as it were – “Gascon, some say Norman” – and in keeping with his roots, he preferred wisecracking to whining, which his creator appreciated.

American shale oil, sweet as a rule, has afflicted Vladimir Putin with an aggravated case of sour grapes. For all his vulpinity, he has failed to imitate old Reynard and keep it short when dealing with this annoying subject.

His latest disquisition makes use of the time-tested tripartite form but boldly follows a decidedly non-Boolean approach to reasoning:

  • Shale stuff isn’t for real. Ten years later. OK, it’s real but will be over soon. (Even as pretty much everyone expects the growth to go on until the mid-2020s at least.)
  • Fracking is unspeakably filthy. We’ll never do it. (“We” have been doing it for years but on a smaller scale because we haven’t figured out how to develop our domestic version of shale.)
  • But suppose we swiped… suppose we have the technology, we’ll be doing it then – why not? (There’s no out of the box technology for this anyway.)

If this is meant to be taken seriously and literally, the Russian government hasn’t learned any valuable lessons from the development of unconventional oil and gas in North America. On the other hand, a self-contradictory message can’t be taken both seriously and literally. The speaker is either playfully cynical or not very bright, and quite possibly both.

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