Nightly News | April 24, 2011
>>> and back here at home, the cost of filling the tank continues to climb. for many americans it is already over $4 a gallon. president obama knows that americans may take their anger out on him, especially when oil companies opened their books this week. here's nbc's mike viqueira.
>> reporter: the first family left the white house on a bright morning in washington, attending easter church services across town. for the president, it was a brief break before a tough week. as gas prices rise higher, so does consumer outrage.
>> they have been going up very steadily and nobody seems quite to know why.
>> it angers me to no end. angers me to no end.
>> reporter: that anger is likely to grow this week. major oil companies will report latest earnings with profits expected to be near record levels. led by exxonmobil, where analysts predict a 59% rise in net income and chevron expected to see a 29% rise.
>> they probably will be reporting very high profits, not yet as high as 2007 - 2008 , but they will be up substantially from the prior year because the crude oil price is higher and the crude oil price really does drive the profitability.
>> reporter: mr. obama talked about rising prices at a series of recent public events.
>> $4 a gallon gas really hurts a lot of people around this country.
>> reporter: but with his approval rate dropping, as the price of gas rises, experts say eye popping oil profits could give the president an opening.
>> oil company profits will be the super bowl of political football . and in the short-term it might actually help the president and politicians to blame somebody else.
>> reporter: today, republicans renewed their demand for more domestic production.
>> we can't talk about energy independence and then say, but you can't drill here, and you can't drill there.
>> reporter: but most agree there is little policymakers can do in the short-term to bring down the price at the pump. and, kate, after the president told the justice department to investigate price manipulation and possible fraud and oil markets, today a democratic senator called for a grand jury investigation, even though past probes have found little to no illegal activity. meanwhile, the price of gas expected to continue to rise through may. kate?
>> mike viqueira at the white house tonight. thank you.