Let’s drill for oil — where there isn’t any

Coming next week from Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats: legislation that allows oil and gas drilling on the moon!

The bill would have the same result as energy legislation passed Tuesday — no increase in domestic oil production — and it certainly wouldn’t be any less cynical.

Democrats have been taking a well-deserved beating in the polls for their stubborn opposition to increased offshore oil drilling. Back when gasoline was a bargain at $2.50 per gallon, the voting public wasn’t anywhere near mad enough to call congressional Democrats on their hypocritical demand that we “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” while doing everything possible to punish oil companies, limit supplies and raise gasoline prices.

Only when pump prices soared past $4 per gallon did the masses begin to wise up to the ruse and demand action. In July, President Bush lifted the executive order that banned drilling on the outer continental shelf, and congressional Republicans began pushing for more drilling along America’s coasts, where billions upon billions of barrels of oil await extraction.

Speaker Pelosi and her lemmings have never wavered from their position that oil, which drives what’s left of the battered economy, worsens human-caused global warming and must be phased out quickly, regardless of the devastation to the developed world’s standard of living.

Democrats want hundreds of billions of dollars poured into cost-prohibitive renewable technologies, such as wind, solar and geothermal power, even though those resources can’t power the cars, trucks and planes that deliver our goods and services.

But how to respond to the popular and political pressure to increase drilling, and thereby protect the election prospects of Democratic candidates, without actually, you know, increasing drilling?

Enter the grab-bag of pandering initiatives in the bill that passed Tuesday. Democrats voted to give states the authority to allow offshore drilling, all right — as long as it takes place at least 50 miles away from the coastline. According to federal studies, more than 85 percent of known offshore oil reserves are well inside the proposed 50-mile boundary.

Moreover, the legislation imposes billions of dollars worth of tax and royalty increases on oil companies — measures that would increase the cost of gasoline to consumers. And the bill won’t allow states to collect royalties on new drilling, providing a disincentive for states to grant approval in the first place.

Again breaking her 2006 campaign promise for “great openness and transparency,” Speaker Pelosi introduced and ordered a vote on the legislation in less than 24 hours, limiting debate and refusing to let Republicans offer amendments. It passed 236-189 on a mostly party-line vote.

“The bill that’s coming to the floor is nothing more than a hoax on the American people, and they will not buy it,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

But Speaker Pelosi’s special interests sure did. Within hours of the bill’s passage, environmental and progressive groups were flooding fax machines and e-mail In-boxes with alerts of Republican flip-flopping for opposing offshore drilling. Americans United For Change didn’t even bother checking the roll call before reflexively sending a flash to Nevada media that Republican Reps. Jon Porter and Dean Heller had reversed course: “All hat and no cattle: Porter and Heller raised hell demanding more offshore drilling, but then quietly voted against it.”

Oops. Rep. Porter, continuing his sprint to the left to deflect attacks from Democratic challenger Dina Titus, actually voted for the do-nothing bill.

The Democrats’ intent here is so transparent it’s embarrassing.

Americans know the country needs to use all its resources to power the future and speed economic recovery. That includes offshore oil drilling — where the oil is.

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