"My view is that the president should just take the position right now that these moratoriums will end on September the 30th and the Democrats have to be responsible for putting them back in," said Blunt.
"Well, the Democrats wouldn't be responsible, congressman," I said. "With all due respect, President Bush would have to sign the moratorium into law for it to exist."
"And I don't think he should do that," said Blunt.
"So, if a bill passes Congress that has that moratorium, your belief is President Bush, your advice to him is: Mr. President, veto that bill?" I asked.
"That's right," said Blunt. "And my advice to him today would be to start the process up right now for what we do on Oct. 1 when this moratorium is ended and move forward assuming that there will be no moratorium after September the 30th."
"You would tell him to instruct those people in the Interior Department, who are responsible for administering these leases for the offshore oil and the shale oil, to begin the process of getting ready so that on Oct. 1 he can sell a lease?" I asked.
"I would," said Blunt.
"And you would go ahead and sell those leases? You would say: 'Let's do it. Let's move ahead'?" I asked.
"Well, after Oct. 1 when there is no moratorium," said Blunt. "The studies are there. The resource is there. We know you can safely go after it. The American people are hurting. We need to do whatever is necessary."
The Democrats would likely attempt to pre-empt such a strategy by using the traditional method Congress uses for ramming through legislation that cannot stand on its own: They will roll almost all fiscal 2009 appropriations into one monstrous continuing resolution and attach to that monstrosity the offshore oil and shale oil moratoria.
They will say to President Bush: If you want to develop U.S. oil resources, you must first shut down most of the U.S. government. You must be willing to face a massive national controversy over oil drilling and government spending.
President Bush might balk at that. For conservatives, it's a two-fer.