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Is Drilling The Gop's Life Raft?

Republicans believe they've found political salvation in the energy issue -- you can practically see the smiles of glee emanating from the latest National Journal Congressional Insiders' Poll (not yet online), in which the Republican respondents respond to the question "Which issues will most help your party in November's election?" with answers like:

This is the Drill-Nothing Congress.

Democrats are killing middle-class pocketbooks. I can't believe that they're this stupid on drilling and taxes. You'd think they were all from San Francisco.

It seems intuitive, but on the merits, I'm not sure pro-drilling rhetoric is going to be the huge winner Republicans anticipate. Polling indicates that more Americans blame "the Bush administration" for high energy prices than either "federal laws that prohibit increased drilling" or "the Democrats in Congress"; moreover, the percentage of people who favor increased offshore or wilderness drilling has actually gone down slightly over the past month, even as Republican candidates make Newt Gingrich's "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" proposal their big talking point. (One representative GOP congressional candidate actually used precious campaign cash to fly to Alaska to film pro-drilling YouTubes.)

Nonetheless, to try to drive home Democratic stupidity on energy, 30+ Republican lawmakers mounted an intense p.r. attack today: Stay in Washington during the August recess, which just began this weekend, and take to the House floor to bemoan the Drill-Nothing Congress. As I type this, they're even clutching light bulbs and gas canisters as they launch into outraged stemwinders in the Democrat-abandoned congressional chambers. Tune in to C-SPAN to check out the sure-to-be-electorally-compelling visual.

Except, oops, wait -- you can't tune in. The House camera feeds are essentially controlled by the Democrats, and they get turned off during a recess. Stupid is as stupid does.

--Eve Fairbanks