Skip to content

GOP Finds Dry Hole in Story About China Drilling

Call it the Great Red Scare of 2008.

Republicans had an explosive new talking point to sell their plan for offshore drilling — communist China had plans to drill off of communist Cuba near the Florida coast.

If China could drill 60 miles from Florida, why couldn’t America’s oil and gas companies? Why are even the communists figuring out the laws of supply and demand when Democrats won’t?

The powerful talking point seemed to have a life of its own in the past few weeks, except for one problem.

It isn’t true.

China has signed oil-exploration deals on Cuba land but isn’t drilling offshore, at least not yet, Republicans who had touted the story now acknowledge.

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) knocked down the reports last week in a Senate floor speech, likening the talk to an urban legend; the Miami Herald reported that it is false; Vice President Cheney’s office issued a retraction; and columnist George Will issued a correction.

House Republican leaders who had been touting the China-Cuba story for weeks are no longer doing so, their spokesmen told Roll Call.

“We’re not using the China talking point anymore, but we will continue to point out that it is absurd that Cuba is developing its deep-water energy resources while Democrats are blocking America from doing the same,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) blamed Will. “It may be the exception that proves the rule that George Will is always right,” he quipped. Blunt, however, said the principle remains the same — “other countries can drill closer to our shores than American companies can,” he said. Just not China.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is enjoying the fallen talking point.

“Americans are paying an average of $4.08 for a gallon of gas and all they’re getting are lies and urban legends from Republicans,” DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said.

Recent Stories

Lawmakers urge DOD to play larger role in scrutinizing mergers

Biden, ‘Big Four’ to meet as spending talks sputter

Alabama IVF ruling spurs a GOP reckoning on conception bills

House to return next week as GOP expects spending bills to pass

FEC reports shine light on Super Tuesday primaries

Editor’s Note: Never mind the Ides of March, beware all of March