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Today marks day five of the GOP’s empty-chamber self-debate over high fuel prices. For anyone who’s been vacationing on Jupiter, the Republicans are calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring Congress back to Washington to vote on an expansion of offshore drilling. Nevermind that experts and independent analyses indicate that increased drilling would have no immediate effect on prices at the pump, the public is growing weary of $4-a-gallon gas, and the GOP’s drilling push is gaining momentum.

Although the debate to this point has revolved around fuel costs and environmental impact, there’s another facet of this argument that, unfortunately, has gone largely ignored: That’s the long-term damage that an oil-based energy model promises to wreak on the U.S. economy. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman pointed out last week:

Anyone who looks at the growth of middle classes around the world and their rising demands for natural resources, plus the dangers of climate change driven by our addiction to fossil fuels, can see that clean renewable energy — wind, solar, nuclear and stuff we haven’t yet invented — is going to be the next great global industry. It has to be if we are going to grow in a stable way.

Therefore, the country that most owns the clean power industry is going to most own the next great technology breakthrough — the E.T. revolution, the energy technology revolution — and create millions of jobs and thousands of new businesses, just like the I.T. revolution did.

Republicans, by mindlessly repeating their offshore-drilling mantra, focusing on a 19th-century fuel, remind me of someone back in 1980 arguing that we should be putting all our money into making more and cheaper IBM Selectric typewriters — and forget about these things called the "PC" and "the Internet." It is a strategy for making America a second-rate power and economy.

Don’t look for the inanity to end anytime soon. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed yesterday that the GOP revolt will continue right up to the Democratic convention.

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