White House officials attempted to claim a small victory as millions hit the road for the holidays this week, touting small declines in gas prices even though costs at the pump are still way higher than at this time last year.
“As people head out for the Christmas weekend, gas prices continue to drop — down 25 cents a gallon in many places since @POTUS announced the globally-coordinated strategic petroleum release,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted Thursday.
Klain was referring to the release of 50 million barrels of oil from America’s reserve stash, which the White House announced the week of Thanksgiving in an attempt to counter rising gas prices.
Two days earlier, White House Deputy Communications Director Kate Berner crowed that gas prices were down 12 cents from mid-November.
As of Friday, the national average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $3.29, according to AAA.
That number is down 11 cents from the same day last month, but is up 46 percent on the average price of $2.25 per gallon on Christmas Eve of last year.
That fact was not lost on some social media users, one of whom accused Berner of using a “trick chart.”
“We’d like to extend a formal offer to make your charts for you, pro bono,” offered Hedgeye, an independent investment research company. “A chart crime for the history books.”
“Investment Banking 101,” tweeted satirical business-focused social media personality Litquidity. “When you stretch the Y-axis to make the data look better and you also do a cumulative price decline to throw off the client.”
The triumphant claims by Klain and Berner recalled when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was slammed on social media earlier this month for touting a price drop of fewer than two cents.
“Thanks, @JoeBiden,” the House Democrats’ campaign organization tweeted on Dec. 2 along with a chart showing the average nationwide price for a gallon of regular gas declining from $3.395 on Nov. 22 to $3.38 on Nov. 29.
Critics mocked the chart, noting that the y-axis showed the price in fractions of a cent to make the decline appear steeper.
Earlier this month, AAA estimated more than 109 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles by road, train or plane this holiday season, despite the high gas prices as well as a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.