"Feeling Bewildered as a Seabird Fouled by an Oil Spill."
Pelosi's oil slick
It was hard to not get twisted up in pretzel knots listening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose explanation on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" about why she hasn't allowed a vote on Republican energy legislation that would ease restrictions on offshore drilling was, to be polite, confusing.
It may have left some in the audience feeling bewildered as a seabird fouled by an oil spill.
Pelosi, a California Democrat, accused Republicans of being monomaniacal on the drilling issue and of suggesting to voters that drilling would immediately lower gas prices. She wasn't going to play along with something that would mislead voters, she asserted.
Here's the problem with that. Anyone who has listened to the debate has heard House Republicans say they are willing to consider a range of options from the use of renewable energy sources to new alternative fuels to conservation so long as they can get a vote on off-shore drilling.
Evidence for this is found in energy legislation introduced by House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, the American Energy Act which includes the language to encourage conservation and alternative-fuels research though it obviously places the stress on getting drilling opened up on the Outer Continental Shelf of the U.S. coasts.
REP. PELOSI: What we have presented are options that would really make a difference at the pump. Free our oil, Mr. President. We're sitting on 700 million barrels of oil. That would have an immediate effect in 10 days. What our colleagues are talking about is something that won't have an effect for 10 years and it will be two cents at the time. If they want to present something as part of an energy package, we're talking about something. But to single-shoot on something that won't work, and mislead the American people as to thinking it's going to reduce the price at the pump -- I'm just not going to be a party to it.
But then, she seemed to later suggest that she would indeed be a party to that, if only House Republicans are smart enough to push the right parliamentary buttons. Her statement came in response to Stephanopoulos's insistent questioning as to why she didn't permit a vote if her faith in her position was so strong.
REP. PELOSI: They'll have to use their imagination as to how they can get a vote and they may get a vote. But I'm trying to -- we have serious policy issues in our country. The president of the United States has presented this -- but for this our economy would be booming, but for this, gas would cheaper at the pump. It's simply not true. And even the president himself in his statement yesterday and before then has said, there is no quick fix for this by drilling.
So she will allow the American people to be misled, in her view, by Republican legislation that she says only offers the illusion of addressing high gas prices, so long as Republicans are smart enough to figure out how to get their legislation to the floor? That doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's what she appeared to say.
Pelosi seems to be subtly trying to adjust her position given the pressure she's coming under from not just Republicans but Democratic House members too as the public has shifted with a majority now favoring more domestic drilling.
On one hand, what kind of leader would she be if she didn't acknowledge that movement in public opinion? After all, the leader of her party, Sen. Barack Obama, the assumed Democratic presidential nominee, has now opened his mind to off-shore drilling so long as it's part of comprehensive energy legislation.
But on the other hand, she hails from California where there's long been a "No way, Jose", or better yet "No way, San Jose" attitude about off-shore drilling. So she can't just give up on opposing such drilling without inviting a severe backlash from her constituency.
Anyway, here's a transcript of the relevant part of Pelosi's discussion with Stephanopolous. Maybe Swamp readers will have more success finding a logical consistency than I did: