In yet another political stunt press conference today, House Republicans continued their obstinate push for a vote on offshore drilling. To help the conservatives’ Big Oil argument, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) pulled a classic out of his rhetorical bag of tricks: The China/Cuba drilling myth.
Wolf brandished “a report from the Congressional Research Service,” which he claimed as evidence that “China has now been working with Cuba.” Wolf then proceeded to link together several utterly misleading statements meant to raise the specter of China drilling for oil off the coast of Florida:
WOLF: I have a report from the Congressional Research Service, which I can show you, showing that China has now been working with Cuba. And Cuba is getting ready to grant leases to foreign countries to drill off the coast of the United States. So here Cuba may very well give a lease to China!
It is unclear what CRS report Wolf is referring to. Though Wolf said he could “show” the report to the press, when ThinkProgress contacted his office, a staffer said they didn’t know when the report was released because they didn’t “have the report here.”
In June, when Sen. Mel Martinez first disputed the “urban legend,” he cited a February 2008 CRS report, which found that the only Cuban territory that China had leased for energy exploration was on land. Here’s what the February 2008 CRS report said:
“While there has been some concern about China’s potential involvement in offshore deepwater oil projects, to date its involvement in Cuba’s oil sector has been focused on onshore oil extraction in Pinar del Rio province through its state-run China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation.’’
Western diplomats have told McClatchy that “Cuba’s state oil company, Cupet, has issued exploration contracts to companies from India, Canada, Spain, Malaysia and Norway.” But there is no indication China is seeking any leases offshore.
By switching the Cuba/China myth to the future tense, Wolf is following in Rudy Giuliani’s footsteps. But that doesn’t make his misleading claims any more truthful. In some ways, it almost seems as if conservatives actually want China to drill off the coast of Florida so that they can use it to demagogue for offshore drilling.