Americans use their cars more, so the pain is greater. They have, on average, a longer daily commute than all Europeans, except Hungarians and Romanians. Public transport is generally poor so many Americans have no alternative but to drive.Europeans pay twice as much, and they don't get angry. Maybe that goes to the heart of what Europe is.
But there is also a symbolic significance about gas that goes to the heart of what America is.
It signifies mobility, freedom and personal liberty, says Dan Neil, motoring correspondent on the Wall Street Journal. "Anger is probably more tied up with a wider sense of decline and also a loss of privilege. Cheap gas has been one of the prerogatives of the American Empire so people have become accustomed to it in a way which is somehow associated with our ability to wield our will around the world. We're mad because we've spent a lot of money in the Middle East and made a lot of enemies and defended a lot of tyrants and still gas prices go up."
May 11, 2011
BBC tries to explain those strange Americans.