Jimmy Carter is generally regarded as a lousy president. He only served one term, and his presidency involved rampant inflation and difficult foreign relation problems.
But in some respects he was quite wise. Consider Carter's statement after the oil shortages:
"Beginning at this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now."
He realized that such a promise would cost money--but unlike the money given to Saudi Arabia (homeland of the majority of the 9/11 terrorists) for oil, this money would go to Americans.
He supported pouring money into alternative energy sources and building extensive public transportation systems. He even put up solar panels on the White House.
Carter's plans were realistic. He wanted US car-makers to reach a fuel-efficiency of 48 mpg by 1995, and he wanted the US to get 20% of its energy from solar power by 2000. We had plenty of time to get there. Decades.
But Americans don't like to sacrifice. They didn't want to conserve energy. They didn't want to spend money on research and public transportation.
In 1980 Reagan moved in, ripped the solar panels off of the White House, and did away with Carter's far-sighted energy plans.
Now, ironically, Republicans are blaming Democrats for the high gas prices. Americans still (largely) refuse to conserve energy. We're still reluctant to sacrifice. And we're paying the heavy price for failing to make the right decision 30 years ago.