Are high gas prices a good thing?

That is not as dumb a question as it sounds. Examine a few revealing remarks from President Obama and the Cabinet officials who are in charge of the nation's energy use and oil leases on federal lands. Then decide whether soaring gas prices are supposed to be good.

In 2008, then-Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar — now the interior secretary in charge of the leasing of federal oil lands — refused to vote for any new offshore drilling. In a Senate exchange with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Salazar objected to drilling on America's outer continental shelf — even if gas reached $10 a gallon.

We can see why the president appointed Salazar, inasmuch as Obama recently promised the Brazilians that he would be eager to buy their newfound offshore oil — while prohibiting similar such exploration here at home.

From 2007 to 2008, Steven Chu, now energy secretary, weighed in frequently on global warming and the desirable price of traditional energy. Once he asserted, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

Chu also lamented: "We have lots of fossil fuel; that's really both good and bad news. We won't run out of energy, but there's enough carbon in the ground to really cook us."

In other words, $10 a gallon for gas would be desirable, while an enormous amount of recoverable American oil, gas, coal, tar sands and oil shale should be left untapped.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama himself had strange ideas about the prospect of high prices for fossil-fuel-generated energy: "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."