Paul Krugman on why this happened:
At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.
Yes. Where's the call for shared sacrifice? Why, for instance, aren't our public officials standing up and telling us to stop driving our cars so much for a while, helping to prevent gas prices from skyrocketing by lowering demand* (to say nothing of conserving oil for the relief and rebuilding effort over the coming months)? Why is "I would hope Americans can conserve if given a choice" the best Bush can do? Confronted with the amount of choice these people have, how can he dare speak of us not having a choice?
* Full disclosure: For the most part, I know jack about economics, but I think that's how it's supposed to work.