Drill, baby, drill | Palin shuts up after Gulf oil spill

an oil drilling rig at sunset

"Drill, baby, drill," a catch phrase for conservatives who support the oil industry, has disappeared from their lingo after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Flickr photo.

“Drill, baby, drill” has been a catchphrase for conservatives since right-wing extremist and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin blurted “drill, baby, drill” in a televised debate a few years ago. But nary a peep has been heard from the likes of Palin,  Michael Steele, Rudi Guiliani or other Republican politicians beholden to big oil since the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Drill, baby, drill: Palin pops off

Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is captured on video lapping up applause after he used the line in a speech at the 2008 Republican convention. Rudy Guiliani uttered “drill, baby, drill” like a stuck phonograph needle during the McCain/Palin campaign. Sarah Palin, in a vice presidential debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden, became an oil industry poster child when she said “The chant is ‘drill, baby, drill.’ And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.” Following that performance, the term was exploited to death with a drill baby drill video, drill baby drill bumper stickers and a drill baby drill movie.

Drilling called into question

The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, unfortunate regardless of when it had happened, comes at a disastrous time for President Barack Obama’s recently announced energy policy. Obama announced in March that his administration’s would allow drilling operations to expand in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf and Alaska. Friday on ABC’s Good Morning America, White House senior adviser David Axelrod said that additional drilling won’t be authorized until it’s determined what happened on the drilling rig that caused the oil spill disaster.

Oil industry and its minions

While they may not be chanting “drill, baby, drill,” Republicans and the oil industry are still pushing a drilling agenda. The New York Times reports that about 70 oil and gas workers, organized by the American Petroleum Institute, traveled to Capitol Hill this week to lobby for domestic drilling . API issued a statement the day after the rig exploded, stressing the importance of safety in drilling. Today, as oil begins to foul the Louisiana wetlands, Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future organization is soliciting signatures for its “Drill here, Drill now, Pay less,” campaign. The slogan is splashed across the group’s home page above a spill update with a positive spin.

Origins of drill baby drill

“Drill, baby, drill” is one shallow saying that Sarah Palin or Michael Steele can’t take credit for. It’s been around since long before America was beset with drill baby drill video, drill baby drill bumper stickers and a drill baby drill movie. Erik Rush, a conservative blogger and author of The Other Rush blog, titled his Aug. 28, 2008, entry, before the convention took place, “Drill, baby, drill!” A Wikipedia entry shows that on Feb. 8, 2009, ABC News reported that the American Dental Association sued the McCain presidential campaign over the use of the term, claiming “drill, baby, drill” was an “ADA owned term since the mid-1970s.” the ADA never used the term because a 2002 ad with the phrase to encourage dental visits proved disastrous when tested in Oregon.

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