A still from an American Energy Alliance ad. (Click to watch.)

Here’s an astonishing statistic, brought to us by Bloomberg:

In April, 16,991 negative ads aired in various parts of the country and 13,748 of them — or 81 percent — focused on energy, according to data provided by New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising.

Energy? Really?

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The details of the story make clear that the vast bulk of these negative energy ads are attack ads directed at Obama, purchased by big PACs — Americans for Prosperity, American Energy Alliance, Let Freedom Ring, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies — awash in Big Oil money.

What the hell is going on? Why is energy dominating the right’s campaign against Obama?

Is this a response to public opinion? Doesn’t seem like it:

According to an April 13-17 CBS News/New York Times poll, 48 percent of Americans say the economy and jobs are the most important problem facing the country today. Fuel costs, which were chosen by 3 percent, fell behind health care and the budget deficit and national debt.

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Most polls show something similar — the economy towers over every other issue.

Is it just that Big Oil has more money than … well, anyone else? It’s not like they’re the only wealthy industry that hates Obama — see, for instance, the financial sector. But then, Big Oil contains some of the most profitable corporations in the history of corporations, so maybe there are just lots of oil kajillionaires floating around with nothing better to do.

Is it just that Republicans have no other decent line of attack? The obvious way to go is the economy, but unfortunately for the GOP, the economy seems to be recovering, albeit slowly and fitfully, which is why Romney is being forced into such contortions. It’s not as though the U.S. public is demanding more crackdowns on contraception. Reactionary anti-immigrant and anti-gay policies work for the base, but not so much for the masses. Similarly, beating the war drums against Iran fires up neocons and chest-beaters, but the public at large isn’t eager for more conflict. And to the great confusion and frustration of the Tea Party, Americans generally like Obama on a personal level.

So what does the GOP have to offer? There’s just not much in the cupboard. Energy is one of the only remaining issues where the right thinks it has a clear advantage, an ability to tie Obama to the far left and turn Independents against him. (I think they’re wrong about this, and given Obama’s concerted pushback — a sharp break from the typical Democratic “Frantic Retreat” strategy on energy — it sounds like his campaign does too.) It may be that attacks are focused on energy because they simply can’t think of anything else.

I don’t feel like I have a great explanation for this. What accounts for the overwhelming dominance of Big Oil and energy in the right’s campaign against Obama? What do y’all think?

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