Virginia Republican Rep. Randy Forbes kicked off the offensive with a performance worthy of “Clear and Present Danger.” He pounded his fist on his desk and stabbed his finger at the Washington Post, demanding why the Navy would buy fuel at such a premium instead of using it to build ships or for other priorities. Back in the old days, the Navy’s goal used to be 600 ships, Forbes said, but today its fleet is shrinking even as China’s grows. He did everything but bellow, How dare you, sir?

The Navy Department has set and then broken its own records for the amounts of money it has paid for fuel. In joint efforts with the Department of Agriculture and others, it has paid hundreds of millions of dollars for batches of biofuel in a deliberate bid to jumpstart its production. Because the government must cover all the research, development and production costs for alternative fuels, it can wind up costing $20 per gallon, as compared to around $3.00 per gallon for standard aviation fuel.