HOLLYWOOD, Md. _ Responding to the unrelenting rise of fuel prices as heating season approaches, Vice President Al Gore on Thursday called on President Clinton to release millions of barrels from the nation's oil reserve.
Continuing his push to make energy policy a central campaign issue, Gore said Clinton should order several 5-million-barrel "swaps," meaning oil would be given to refineries that would be committed to returning it when prices drop.
Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is controversial, and Gore has previously opposed releases. The national hoard of 570 million barrels, created after the oil crisis of the 1970s, is designed to be used only for emergencies.
It is novel for a vice president to call on his own president to take action, but since the campaign began in earnest, Gore has not been shy about setting himself apart from the Clinton administration on politically volatile matters.
Campaigning in Cleveland, Republican George W. Bush charged that the soaring cost of gasoline and heating oil are the result of the administration's ineptitude and accused Gore of playing politics.
Bush said America was caught "unawares" by the escalating prices of foreign crude oil this summer because it lacked a national energy policy. He called Gore's plan to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has happened only during the Persian Gulf …