Larry Kudlow

President Bush was on message Wednesday in a Rose Garden news conference when he kept up the pressure on his a drill, drill, drill offensive. He said he knows Americans are worried about gasoline prices, and said he wants them “to understand fully that we have got the opportunity to find more crude oil here at home in environmentally friendly ways.” He specifically mentioned opening up ANWR, the outer continental shelf, and oil-shale exploration. He also took a whack at lawmakers, saying “the Democratically controlled Congress has refused to budge.”

That’s spot-on correct. But it has me wondering. Where in the world is John McCain on this very same issue? It’s simple: Sen. McCain should be pummeling Barack Obama daily on drill, drill, drill. Why? Because oil and gas pump prices are potentially the single-biggest wedge issue in the presidential campaign. Mr. McCain has to pound the point home.

According to a new Rasmussen poll, 48 percent of Americans say lower gas prices are the key to an economic recovery, and 60 percent are in favor of off-shore drilling.

Here’s another one. Rasmussen asked voters about the now-infamous Harry Reid YouTube video, where the senator says coal and oil are making us sick, and that fossil-fueled global warming is “ruining our country” and “ruining our world.” Well, Rasmussen shows that 52 percent of voters reject Reid on coal; 50 percent disagree with him on oil; and 51 reject his idea that we need to stop using fossil fuels.

And all this is McCain’s opportunity. He needs to hammer away on an America First energy policy that will completely deregulate and decontrol this nation’s great energy industry. He needs to mothball his errant statements on “obscene oil profits.” Instead, he needs to support and unleash all of our energy companies and entrepreneurs, allowing them to develop whatever it takes on oil, gas-to-liquid, clean coal, nuclear, offshore, onshore, oil shale, wind, solar, and biofuel.

America First should be the rallying cry. We have the natural resources to become the Saudi Arabia of coal and the Saudi Arabia of oil. Lift the moratoriums. Stop attacking our own businesses. Put technology to work. Put venture capital to work, with rock-bottom capital-gains and corporate tax rates. Stop being mau-maued by the extremist greenies who have prevented energy production for over three decades. America First. Unleash our free-enterprise energy sector: 2 trillion barrels worth of shale; 90 billion barrels of offshore oil; at least 10 billion barrels up in ANWR and more throughout Alaska, both onshore and off.

Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.