It seems a classic case of synergy: the formerly sainted Sen. John McCain has changed his once (for a Republican) strong pro-environmental stance calling for American energy responsibility, and now joins the Bush Administration in suggesting that the ban on offshore oil drilling be lifted. As a result: oil industry campaign cash has gushed in to McCain. On this one, I'll accept McCain's campaign people's saying that this is about McCain trying to pander to the voters (a la the gas tax holiday he and Hillary touted), rather than about attempting to pander to the oil industry for campaign cash. The latter is just a welcome fringe benefit for the Arizona senator.
Look: polls on this are shifting with gasoline well over $4/gal. stateside. And so since politicians are seen by the voters as Santa Claus, anything that the voters are told will bring them relief at the gasoline pump is worth politicans talking about.
And so, Sen. McCain, despite very conservative overall credentials, had been one of the more responsible Republicans on environmental issues (this is not touting him as an environmentalist in an absolute way, btw... merely among his fellow Republicans.)
Well, that's gone now. McCain must do and say anything to win-- and he will (see, e.g., misrepresenting facts about "the surge").
Since, in the end, the presidential race is going to come down to plain old race... race and McCain's ability to reverse the early attacks on him from the Limbaugh right-wing-hate-talk-radio crowd, that is... one wonders why McCain even bothers with this particular pander. If he wants to play into Obama's line of running for G. W. Bush's third term, he couldn't have found a better way.