Oil is not nice stuff if you are a bird. It gets in your feathers, after which you either get eaten, starve or drown.
However if you are a car, it is extremely nice stuff - vital in everything that constitutes driving - fuel, engine oil, brake fluid, lubricants and even the dash board.
In the 'land of the free' it is extra important since people drive further, more often and carry heavier people. And it doesn't stop there. When it's hot, the huge business greenhouses of Houston need cooling and when it's cold the drafty skyscrapers of Chicago need warming - all involving the burning of one fossil fuel or another.
Consequently the US has an unmatched appetite for the black stuff. Voters are so sensitive to the price of 'gas' that when it goes up politicians scrabble around to find new sources like Iraq or deep wells in the Gulf of Mexico - the latter of which has presented Obama with a proverbial 'humble pie' to eat already.
Messy accidents happen when you try new ways to get oil but Americans would probably rather live with them than pay $5 a gallon, or worse still, have to walk somewhere.