The drilling myth that just won't die

Republicans keep arguing, falsely, that China is drilling for oil in Cuban waters.

Published July 3, 2008 7:45PM (EDT)

About a month ago, as the debate over coastal drilling began in earnest, Dick Cheney pushed the rhetorical envelope a bit, telling the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that "oil is being drilled right now 60 miles off the coast of Florida. We're not doing it. The Chinese are in cooperation with the Cuban government ... Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to high prices is more supply. Yet Congress has said ... no to drilling off Florida."

It has been a common Republican talking point, but it's patently false -- the Chinese are not drilling off Cuba's coasts. The day after Cheney made the bogus claim, the V.P.'s office acknowledged that he was mistaken.

And yet, for some reason, high-profile Republicans can't stop repeating the claim that's already been debunked. Maybe conservatives have decided that they can't win a debate on energy policy on the merits, so misleading people about communists stealing our oil is the better strategy. Here's failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani talking to CNN's resident right-winger, Glenn Beck, Wednesday night:

Maybe it's my imagination, but it almost seems as if high-profile Republicans have been repeating the false claim more now that it has been debunked.

Talking Points Memo has been keeping track of all the examples, and there are some real doozies in there. Some Republicans have altered the myth a little -- I think Giuliani is the first to suggest that the Cubans and the Chinese are taking our oil -- but they're all repeating a charge that isn't remotely true. Either they don't know what they're talking about, or they know the claim is false and repeat it anyway. At this point, it's hard to know which is the case.

By Steve Benen

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