McCain has flip-flopped his position on offshore drilling, pandered to the oil companies, and embraced the exact same strategy endorsed by the man McCain is trying so hard to run away from — President Bush. He must have a damn good policy reason:

“Tomorrow I’ll call for lifting the federal moratorium for states that choose to permit exploration,” McCain said. “I think that this and perhaps providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.”

Short-term? If only the facts supported that position. If only the man who wants to be the next president bothered to check the analysis by the current president’s own energy analysts.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently did a detailed study of the likely outcome of offshore drilling for their Annual Energy Outlook 2007, “Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).” The sobering conclusion:

The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.

And the impact of the projected 7 percent (!) increase in lower-48 oil production that might result in 2030 thanks to opening the OCS is … wait for it … “any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”

Yes, the man who would be president has sold out his principles to garner support from the oil industry while achieving no benefit to the American gasoline-consuming public whatsoever even a quarter century from now!

To paraphrase Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons:

“It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … but for ExxonMobil!”

So what price is McCain getting for auctioning off his principles?

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.