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GOP Singing From Same Tune on Drilling

Senate Republicans breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday that they can now push one message on energy issues to voters: Get on with the drilling, offshore anyway.

Shortly after President Bush announced he wants Congress to revoke the ban on offshore drilling, Senate GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) chimed in with a similar message.

“To lower $4-per-gallon-and-climbing gas prices, we have to honor the law of supply and demand. That means we have to find more, as well as use less,” Alexander said, echoing Bush’s call for more offshore drilling. “Republicans are ready to do both — to find more and to use less — and Democrats are not.”

Previously, Alexander sought to soften the GOP image on the environment by proposing a Manhattan Project-like effort to find alternative energy sources that would divorce the nation from foreign oil sources.

That approach would presumably have brought Senate GOPers in line with their colleague and presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been viewed as more environmentally friendly than traditional Republicans.

But as gas prices have soared, McCain stirred controversy by calling for reversing the ban on offshore drilling to increase oil production.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday sought to emphasize the fact that there was never a rift on the environment or energy policy with McCain.

“I don’t agree that [McCain] did not support offshore drilling,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said. “He supported the environment, but that doesn’t mean he did not support domestic production.”

Like Kyl, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) tried to diminish any policy conflict that McCain may have had with Senate Republicans, but said that he appreciated the Arizona Senator’s current position.

“There is no change in his position, and I appreciate his stressing that we need domestic oil production. … We’re together as a party,” DeMint said.

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