Rich Lowry

At a town-hall meeting in Philadelphia, McCain said he could no sooner drill in ANWR than in the Grand Canyon. This is like comparing a roadside flea market to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Five million people a year visit the Grand Canyon, whereas 1,000 visit ANWR. Why would anyone want to go? It's a frozen wasteland during the winter and a mosquito-infested bog during the summer.

McCain opposes drilling off the shores of Florida and California as well, saying that the states should be able to decide. But Alaska desperately wants to drill in ANWR. Its opinion apparently doesn't count. In an interview on the "Today" show, McCain ridiculously held out the prospect that advances in alternative energy might lower the price of gas by November. He's touting fanciful revolutionary breakthroughs within months without acknowledging the real technological advances that make it possible to drill with minimal environmental impact.

McCain calls energy independence a national-security issue, but rules out obtaining here in the U.S. more of the most efficient form of energy readily available. By his own logic, the national-security candidate is putting aesthetic considerations -- the sheer unsightliness of drilling, even though most people will never see it -- over security.

The dirty secret is that, as a believer that global warming is a dangerous crisis, McCain should want gas prices to be high. Obama has been more forthright about this, saying that current prices may make for a "more efficient energy policy," although he would have preferred a more "gradual adjustment" in gas prices. In other words, slow-motion pain at the pump.

The McCain campaign tried to pounce on this, but how can you attack someone for positions you share?

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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