The Republican party has succeeded in making offshore drilling a political issue, forcing the Democratically-controlled Congress to take up legislation on opening more coastal areas to oil exploration. However, they will almost certainly not approve any such measures, and with good reason. More offshore drilling -- just as with drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- will not do anything to lower the price of gasoline or home heating oil, and it won't do anything to wean America off fossil fuels.
Of course, the GOP doesn't want people to understand this. As is often the case, Republicans twist the truth and then use ignorance in their favor. As every economist or oil expert I've read and listened to has made quite clear: there are currently many offshore drilling licenses that are not being used; no one is sure where there is and isn't oil; if drilling is approved in places where it is currently prohibited it'd take ten years or so to start getting oil from those places -- assuming it's there; all oil is sold on a global market and even if newly approved sites were producing oil it would have virtually no effect on the price. The Bush Administration estimates that increased offshore drilling will contribute 1% of our daily oil usage in some 20 years.
These are the facts that John McCain, Sarah Palin and the Republican party don't want the American people to know. Because they don't have the facts on their side, they bang the table and shout slogans, such as "Drill, baby, drill." They are infantile, but they are not stupid. Their strategy frequently works.
Of course, a real energy policy would be a national commitment to conservation and the development of alternative energy sources. Remember Barack Obama's suggestion that Americans inflate their tires properly? That small step, according to Time magazine, would increase gas mileage by 3%, yet McCain jumped all over that earlier this summer, ridiculing the idea.
Here's another statistic the GOP doesn't want you to know: only about 15% of our oil comes from the Middle East (according to information from various sources on the Internet). About 44% is produced domestically and, of the imported oil, about one-third comes from Canada and Mexico. Our reliance on oil from the unstable Persian Gulf is surely something we want to lessen, but it's not anywhere close to the source of the majority of the petroleum that we use.
The American people should demand an honest and rational discussion on issues that are before us, but the Republican party is in the business of hiding the truth.