Sen. Lindsey Graham doesn’t sound like someone who’s abandoned the push to pass a global warming bill….

“I’m not playing the game to win 43 [votes],” he said, referring to the high-water mark of past Senate climate bill roll calls. “I’m not in this to make a statement. I’m in this to win.”

Lindsey Graham is tough to read, that’s for sure.

UPDATE:  E&E News (subs. req’d) interviewed Graham in which he said, “I could see myself being the 60th vote for an energy-independent, job creation, clean air bill.”  But he has doubts the bill will get the other 59 votes and wants to see how the oil disaster plays out.  See also Politico’s piece today, “Graham unlikely to fold on energy bill.”

He apparently will not be joining his climate bill compadres Kerry and Lieberman next Wednesday when they launch the climate bill.  And he has given a multitude of conflicting statements in the past few weeks:

 

But now Greenwire/NYT reports the unexpected remark above:

Standing in the Senate’s historic Kennedy Caucus Room, the site of hearings on the sinking of the Titanic and Watergate, the South Carolina Republican told a room full of environmentalists and Obama administration officials Tuesday night that he is still in the fight to enact legislation that caps greenhouse gases and expands domestic energy production….

During his remarks, Graham repeatedly praised Kerry and Lieberman for their work bringing the climate bill toward the center and including many industry demands, including drilling provisions that have proved unpopular following the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. And he also stressed the importance of immigration, an issue that he first grabbed a leadership spot on in 2007 while working with then-President George W. Bush’s administration and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Graham’s office didn’t comment as of press time on his status in the climate negotiations, leaving many to guess where he officially is.

“I think it’s like the hokeypokey,” said Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Texas). “You put your right foot in. You take your right foot out. I’m not sure where he is right now.”

It’s pretty clear the bill goes nowhere without him:

Chris Miller, the top climate aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said yesterday the climate bill probably won’t come to the floor if sponsors are not within striking distance of 60 votes, and that means more than just winning over Graham.

“Because of the way the Senate works these days, we can’t even consider moving to a bill unless you’ve got 60 votes,” Miller said, adding that it “might not be worth taking a bill to the floor at all just to see it fail” if it is shy of 60.

Well, that assumes you believe this is a politically losing issue — a view that remains conventional wisdom inside the DC beltway despite countless polls to the contrary: