The Obama campaign is hitting McCain hard for being in the pocket of Big Oil after Exxon Mobil reported an eyeball-popping quarterly profit of $11.7 billion today. That's the biggest quarterly return for oil in American history--equivalent to about $1,486 per second, The Guardian calculates--and the Obama camp was quick to the draw:

"Perhaps the only thing more outrageous than Exxon Mobil making record profits while Americans are paying record prices at the pump is the fact that Senator McCain has proposed giving them an additional $1.2bn tax break," Obama said in a statement.

The figure comes from the Obama campaign's own estimates that McCain's tax plan would increase Exxon's profits by $1.2 billion, with the oil industry as a whole receiving $4 billion in tax breaks. So, I imagine that this renewed attack on Big Oil should carry more water with voters than the Dems' line that oil speculation has significantly driven up fuel costs (a theory that has been roundly dismissed at this point). The irony is that pre-ANWR McCain tried on the very same mantle of economic populism just last month in New York:

"I believe there needs to be a thorough and complete investigation of speculators to find out whether speculation has been going on and, if so, how much it has affected the price of a barrel of oil," Mr. McCain said in response to an audience member's complaint about investors driving up the price of fuel and other commodities. "There's a lot of things out there that need a lot more transparency and, consequently, oversight...I am very angry, frankly, at the oil companies not only because of the obscene profits they've made but at their failure to invest in alternate energy to help us eliminate our dependence on foreign oil," the senator said.

Now that McCain has latched onto the off-shore drilling as a major political lifeline--the latest Quinnipiac poll shows voter support for the plan in key battleground states--the industry behind such "obscene profits" is gushing money into his campaign coffers.

--Suzy Khimm