HOW'S this for a double dose of irony? President Bush's signature on Congress' so-called energy bill was barely dry when the market price of crude oil jumped to $64 a barrel and gas stations across Toledo responded by jacking their regular grade to a fraction under $2.50 a gallon.
Searching for evidence of cause and effect probably is futile, but oil industry analysts are suggesting that motorists will just have to get used to paying a little more each time they fill up.
The prospect of $3 a gallon gasoline, once a doomsday prediction, doesn't seem far-fetched. The only good news, analysts say, is that gas probably will be available without shortages - if you can afford it.
Along with continuing record prices comes the bleak realization that the President and Congress have once again failed to take any action that might conceivably ease the burden on motorists. The $12.3 billion legislation they've been working on for four years is mostly a collection of tax breaks for the energy industry, which is already enjoying record profits.
"This bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight," Mr. Bush admitted at the bill-signing ceremony in New Mexico. "It's going to take years of focused efforts to alleviate those problems."
If you're tired of hearing that excuse, well, it's no wonder. Mr. Bush and his White House predecessors have talked a good game on energy for more than two decades but have done little.
So the nation's foolhardy dependence on foreign oil has risen from about 45 percent 10 years ago to 60 percent today.
Energy conservation, the only realistic solution to this unquenched thirst, remains largely an afterthought. The bill includes tax deductions for buyers of hybrid and diesel cars, but no required improvement in the government's Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, little changed since they were first adopted in 1975.
To Congress' credit, the measure does include a requirement for utilities to comply with federal rules for reliability of the nation's electric grid, replacing voluntary standards to protect against blackouts like the one in 2003.
Dropped from the bill, thankfully, was an unconscionable liability shield for the petroleum industry from lawsuits connected to groundwater pollution from MBTE, a toxic gasoline additive.
A provision to allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge also was dropped, but only because Republican leaders intend to ram it through later this year by plugging it into budget legislation that cannot by law be filibustered.
By and large, however, the 1,745-page bill undoubtedly consumed more energy in the drafting process than it will ever make available to the American public.
Among its collection of tax breaks for industry, even the subsidy for corn-based ethanol as a fuel supplement was included in the legislation less for its energy implications than because much of the crop would come from Midwestern farm states such as Ohio, where a lot of votes are up for grabs in next year's midterm elections.
In the meantime, motorists feeling a sharper pinch in the wallet each time they fill up their gas tank needn't bother asking what the Bush Administration and Congress have done to help them.
The answer, obviously, is not much.