Call it a sign that the Biden administration is desperate to change the narrative on rising gas prices, or call it economic illiteracy, either way, the president’s demand that the Federal Trade Commission look into oil companies gouging customers is a whopper:

In a…letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, Mr. Biden alleged that there is “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil-and-gas companies.” He said gasoline prices are rising even as the price of unfinished gasoline goes down.

“This unexplained large gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average,” Mr. Biden wrote. “Meanwhile, the largest oil-and-gas companies in America are generating significant profits off higher energy prices.”

The president called on Ms. Khan to “consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump,” asking her to “bring all of the Commission’s tools to bear if you uncover any wrongdoing.”

The American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s top lobbying group, called the letter a “distraction from the fundamental market shift that is taking place,” adding that demand has increased as the economy picks back up.

 The API went a step further, hitting Mr. Biden right where it hurts:

“Rather than launching investigations on markets that are regulated and closely monitored on a daily basis or pleading with OPEC to increase supply, we should be encouraging the safe and responsible development of American-made oil and natural gas,” Frank Macchiarola, the group’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said in a statement.

But that would mean alienating the faction inside Mr. Biden’s own cabinet pushing to roll back domestic production. And we can’t have that. What we do have is an American president pleading with China’s maximum leader to pump up the oil supply:

President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping discussed the merits of releasing oil from their strategic petroleum reserves to ensure stability in global energy markets.

Right. So is this panic? Economic illiteracy? A stupid political trick? Maybe it’s all three.