Friday, September 19, 2008


"Oil and coal? Of course, it's a fungible commodity and they don't flag, you know, the molecules, where it's going and where it's not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it's Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It's got to flow into our domestic markets first."

Palin Takes Questions at a McCain Town Hall (ABC News)
Not allow the export bans? What bans? Huh? (Here are some details as to where American oil exports currently go.)

What fascinates me in this stream of semi-consciousness is the word fungible. To which one might also say, Huh? But Merriam-Webster's on the case. I've added the pronunciation from the entry for the noun (which means "something that is fungible — usually used in plural"):
Pronunciation: \ˈfən-jə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: New Latin fungibilis, from Latin fungi to perform — more at FUNCTION
Date: 1818

1 : being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation < oil, wheat, and lumber are fungible commodities >
2 : interchangeable
3 : flexible
And that's my word of the day.

comments: 3

Geo-B said...

I'm not saying she's not a bright individual, but when I hear "Oil and coal? Of course, it's a fungible commodity and they don't flag, you know, the molecules," I think, even though it doesn't make immediate sense, it sounds like the product of heavy coaching. As an English teacher, I can sense when a student paper has strayed away from the student's own voice and is relying too heavily upon a source.

Michael Leddy said...

Exactly! Especially in the offhand way it's tossed in — "Of course."

Michael said...

I think she was implying in her tone poem that somehow it would be advantageous to not export the oil drilled in the US, but rather to use it here.
I am not sure why she thinks it would be helpful, especially when you consider only 3% of the oil we consume comes from our country.
When I listen to her I imagine that this is what having Alzheimer's is like. You feel like things should make sense but somehow they just don't add up to anything familiar.