AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventOn Friday, the president was pushing his proposals to boost spending to develop alternative energy sources, particularly hydrogen-fueled cars. Critics say Bush’s ideas are too modest and focus on solutions that are far from being a reality in the marketplace. Crude-oil prices broke through $75 a barrel Friday amid concerns about the standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, rebel disruptions of oil production in Nigeria, and tight U.S. gasoline supplies. Analysts say they are likely to climb even higher. Prices at the gas pump also kept rising and were not considered at their peak, with the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline at $2.855. That’s 3 cents higher than a day earlier and more than 60 cents higher than a year ago, according to AAA’s daily fuel gauge report. SAN JOSE – As oil prices hit a record, drivers worried about $3-a-gallon gas and politicians feared the impact on elections, President Bush on Friday acknowledged the pain but seemed resigned to being able to do little about it. “I know the folks here are suffering at the gas pump,” the president said while promoting his competitiveness initiative at the Silicon Valley headquarters of Internet networking company Cisco Systems Inc. “Rising gasoline prices is like taking a – is like a tax, particularly on the working people and the small-business people.” But to address the immediate problem, Bush offered only a pledge that “if we find any price gouging it will be dealt with firmly.” Bush said that lowering America’s dependance on foreign oil imports will help reduce the country’s vulnerability to global oil price fluctuations. Democratic efforts to score political points by focusing on gas prices have Republicans worried that their majority in Congress could be at risk in the fall midterm elections. High gas prices were hardly the only problem facing Bush’s White House as he embarked on a four-day swing to California and Las Vegas. He was traveling with new chief of staff Joshua Bolten, charged with reinvigorating a White House rocked by public discontent with the Iraq war and a series of missteps ranging from an ill-fated Supreme Court nomination to a bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s poll ratings are at their lowest point. Hundreds of protesters called for his resignation near the Cisco compound where he spoke. Even his trip put the president squarely in the middle of a federal-state dustup. Bush decided not to grant the pre-emptive federal disaster declaration sought for California’s fragile levees by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who faces a tough re-election fight and has had a chilly relationship with Bush. Instead, the president is allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help speed repairs at the state’s expense. One reason for a weekend trip with a lot of downtime in beautiful places became clear even before Bush boarded Air Force One to leave Washington. Crews were seen loading two shiny mountain bikes – one a red-white-and-blue Trek adorned with the presidential seal and “United States of America.” With stays scheduled in picturesque Napa Valley and the Palm Springs area, the bikes weren’t likely to remain clean for long.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!