Cliff Stearns in happier times. (Photo from Wikipedia.)

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) has had a good run over the course of his 23 years on Capitol Hill. He’s led the charge on important issues, such as the huge Solyndra scandal (not a scandal) and having an opinion on abortion.

But all good things must come to an end. In a primary yesterday, Stearns apparently lost his seat in a squeaker to Ted Yoho, a Tea Party veterinarian* who ran this ad:

(At this point, I can reveal that the choice of “squeaker” above was intentional.)

It’s not final; Yoho leads by only 829 votes. [Wait, it is final. See update below.] But either way, Politico suggests that the vote is “an unexpected rebuke” for Stearns, who outraised Yoho 16-to-1.

After last night, it becomes more clear why fossil-fuel advocates are nervous about November. The Houston Chronicle reports that the American Petroleum Institute has started to invest heavily in races around the country.

The new round of print and online ads by Big Oil’s top trade group will target voters in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia — battlegrounds that could help determine who lives in the White House for the next four years.

Institute President Jack Gerard said the group wants to encourage a “realistic, robust debate” [Ed. -- LOL] about energy issues — and get politicians to commit to substantive action.

Gerard said the advertising isn’t wedded to any particular political party, but he sharply criticized the Obama administration’s handling of oil and gas drilling on public lands, which he said was too restrictive.

The API also released a poll that, if I may paraphrase, suggests everyone in America loves oil and would like to somehow convert oil into a food source and, if possible, grant oil consciousness so that their love for oil could be reciprocated. The poll should be taken with a grain of salt.

So in summary of today’s political news: The guy who led the Solyndra witch hunt is probably out of a job, but the oil industry is ponying up to replace him with people equally friendly to its interests.

The great wheel of life keeps on turnin’.

Update: Stearns is conceding. Gosh, what on Earth will he do for a living now?

* To clarify: Veterinarian and Tea Party member. As far as I know, Tea Party members use regular ol’ human doctors.