Originally posted at the Wonk Room.

In eastern Pennsylvania yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) repeatedly argued, “We need to drill here and we need to drill now.” His invocation of the slogan of Newt Gingrich’s right-wing 527 corporation, American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), was coupled with the following call for Congress to “come back to town and come back to work”:

Congress should come back into session, and I’m willing to come off the campaign trail.

McCain’s call for action on behalf of Big Oil and right-wing billionaires hardly jibes with his record of absenteeism on major votes. In fact, McCain has been on the campaign trail and fundraising circuit a tremendous amount this session, missing far more votes than any other member of Congress. His vacation from his elected duty has included some of the most important legislation considered by Congress:

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  • 4/26/07: Iraq War funding (passed 51-46)
  • 6/7/07: Immigration reform (filibustered 34-61)
  • 6/11/07: Condemning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (filibustered 53-38)
  • 7/26/07: Homeland Security (passed 85-8)
  • 8/3/07: Wiretapping (FISA) authorization (passed 60-28)
  • 9/27/07: Children’s health insurance (passed 69-30; vetoed)
  • 2/6/08: Stimulus package with support for renewable energy (filibustered by one vote)
  • 4/23/08: Fair Pay Act (filibustered 56-42)
  • 5/22/08: The 21st-Century GI Bill (passed 75-22)
  • 6/6/08: Global warming legislation (filibustered 48-36)

Voteskipper McCain shirked votes supporting renewable tax credits four times this session, letting them be filibustered every time. Twice the bill was blocked by a single vote. In the past month alone, he missed every single energy vote brought to the floor. Sen. McCain stayed on the campaign trail while his conservative allies filibustered each proposal — on energy speculation, low-income heating bills, and renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives — and he drilled for cash from the oil industry.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) already laid down the challenge to McCain and his conservative colleagues:

So if they want to stay here and work during the August recess, it’s fine with us. I’m not sure it’s fine with the Republican senators who have these challengers with them. But we’re here. I have no problem. If they — if they think that it’s going to hurt us in any way, I’m not concerned at all, because it won’t hurt us one bit.

(H/T Bill Scher)

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Obama spokesman Bill Burton released this statement:

If Senator McCain is willing to pass a compromise that provides immediate relief to consumers in the form a $1,000 energy rebate and makes a serious investment in renewable energy, Senator Obama would be happy to join him in calling on Congress to return. But if he continues to reject any compromise that takes away tax breaks for the same oil companies that have given millions to his campaign, as he did on Friday, we’d rather not waste the American people’s tax dollars.