[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/06/17/mccain.energy/art.mccain2.gi.jpg caption="Sen. John McCain says it's time for the federal government 'to put our own reserves to use.'"]
Ed Henry BIO
White House Correspondent
So much for John McCain distancing himself from President Bush.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has rolled out a new TV ad saying he's more of an environmentalist than Bush. "John McCain stood up to the President and sounded the alarm on global warming five years ago," says the ad, noting the Senator has a plan to "curb greenhouse emissions" realistically.
But now, less than 24 hours later, Bush is unveiling a move that will undoubtedly increase greenhouse gas emissions, by increasing the supply of oil, and it's a move supported by (drumroll, please) John McCain.
Marching in lockstep with the general outlines of a plan McCain signed on to Tuesday, Bush revealed Wednesday he wants to end the federal ban on offshore oil drilling. What's new is that while Bush has previously pushed for offshore drilling, he had not called for the specific step of lifting the federal ban.
This is obviously a response to the President's growing political problem of $4-a-gallon gasoline, which may increase the chances of a recession and mar his final months in office.
Bush's answer is to throw this in the lap of Congressional Democrats and challenge them to pass legislation ending the ban, a gambit aimed in part at spreading the political blame for high gas prices. Bit if Democrats don't blink, Bush will have a tough decision.
Does he buck his own father by overturning a 1990 executive order signed by the elder President Bush blocking offshore drilling? A fascinating family drama. The current President has been more outspoken about drilling off the coast of California, rather than Florida, because his brother Jeb was against the drilling when he was governor of Florida.
No such qualms for the current Florida governor, Charlie Crist, who after long opposing offshore drilling quickly jumped on board with McCain on Tuesday. Apparently the allure of possibly being the Republican running mate was just too delicious.
In fairness to Bush and McCain, they get some credit for trying to take action. Democratic leaders in Congress have done little to lower gas prices in the short-term. Only today, when energy has already become an explosive political issue, Sens. Dodd, Durbin and Menendez will propose a bill to penalize oil companies that don't tap the gas or oil under land they control. Previously, Democrats boosted fuel economy standards a little bit, and pushed a gas tax holiday, a feel-good idea that doesn't fix anything.
Let's face it, neither party has come up with a solution in decades for an issue that has been a ticking time bomb: how does the U.S. break its addiction to foreign oil?
But in the end, it's not clear the Bush-McCain effort will solve anything either, starting with the fact that increasing the supply of oil - while at the same time not really slowing the demand for oil - only feeds the American addiction.
Secondly, experts estimate that even if offshore drilling starts, it will take years to bear fruit. So does it have any chance of affecting short-term price?
Third, Bush claims there are ways to drill for this oil without harming the environment. But is that true? Nobody will know for sure until the drilling starts.
Finally, there this issue of how this affects the McCain campaign. Touting his fight against global warming was an obvious attempt to break with Bush and reach out to independent voters pivotal in the general election. But joining forces with Bush to increase oil drilling may achieve the opposite effect.
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