By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/19/2005 7:52:44 PM ET 2005-05-19T23:52:44

In suburban Atlanta, there's no relief for commuters. And they are angry at Washington politicians.             

"Absolutely, Congress needs to do something!" says one driver.

"This could be something that they could help us with here, right now!" echoes another.

Historically, it is the president who takes the blame for high gas prices. Richard Nixon's approval rating took a hit during the oil crisis in 1973. And remember those lines at the pump in 1979? Jimmy Carter's approval rating fell to 25 percent.

Today, President Bush is no exception.

According to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll , 64 percent of those questioned think the president has put too little emphasis on gas prices. And 67 percent say his policies dealing with gas prices are not working well.

"Part of the frustration I think you're seeing is that people see this kind of disconnect between their day-to-day concerns and the political rhetoric they're hearing out of Washington," says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the poll with Democrat Peter D. Hart.

The White House is worried about the poll numbers, which is why the president has been more aggressively promoting his energy plan. But even he admits it is a long-term strategy.

"Listen, the energy bill is certainly no quick fix," Bush told reporters at his press conference on April 27. "You can't wave a magic wand. I wish I could."

It is vulnerability for the president and his party that Democrats want to take advantage of, so they are coming out strongly against the president's energy bill.

"This bill does nothing to bring down the cost at the pump," says Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. "In fact, it might just make the problem worse."

"Apparently this Republican majority believes you need to pay more for gasoline," says Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Democrats may be gaining traction given the president's poll numbers. But so far, they have yet to offer up an alternative solution.

The real problem is a tough one to fix. There's a shortage of refineries to turn crude oil into gasoline; there's too much dependence on foreign oil; and few signs Americans are ready to cut back on gasoline consumption.

That means drivers will see little relief at the pump any time soon, while politicians will enjoy no real political victory for either side.

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