Dems Launch Counterattack To GOP Oil Protest

For three days, Democrats have largely dismissed the Republican House revolt on gas prices, scoffing at the fake sessions in the darkened chamber.

But on the day Newt Gingrich rolled through the House to provide some PR firepower for the GOP, top Democratic leaders decided to launch a counterattack, saying Republicans drilling-focused agenda was narrow minded and wouldn't produce any new oil for years.

All three Democratic leaders _ Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn blasted the House GOP for their floor tirades. It's a sign that Democrats are not only ready to go on the offensive on this issue, but also that Republicans are making inroads with their message.

Pelosi released a "top 10 questions for the House GOP on energy," which includes slams like this: "When House Republicans were in the majority for 12 years, our dependence on foreign oil escalated. Why didn’t House Republicans do something about America’s energy independence to ensure we wouldn’t reach the energy crisis we’re in now?" Pelosi's office has also pointed to an Energy Department study that shows that lifting the outer continental shelf drilling ban wouldn't produce significant oil until 2017.

Hoyer says that Democrats proposed more domestic drilling in existing Gulf of Mexico leases, a so-called "use it or lose it" proposal that has been dismissed by Republicans and oil experts who say that oil companies would certainly have drilled in areas they already own if there was oil there.

"This week, Republicans are doing nothing but pushing the failed Johnny-one-note policies of the past," Hoyer said.

Clyburn went for the bash Big Oil rhetoric, saying "eight years of House Republicans rubber-stamping policies of the oil men in the White House that were hand-tailored by and for big oil, Americans are suffering under over $4-a gallon gas. Not only do these Republicans refuse to take responsibility for the failed energy policies of the past."

Now that both sides are completely engaged on the debate, it really doesn't feel much like recess on Capitol Hill, and Republicans will be back at it tomorrow.