Now that Bush has rescinded his father's executive order banning offshore oil drilling, only the legislative ban stands in the way. And that ban expires on Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year. The Democrats have the votes to extend it, but the Republicans will filibuster it and there is no way the Democrats can get 60 votes to stop the filibuster.

So the Dems are threatening to put the extension of the offshore drilling ban in as an amendment to the continuing resolution (CR) needed to keep the government running. If the Republicans filibuster the CR, the Democrats feel they would profit from the resulting shutdown, just as they did in 1995-96.

But I doubt it. I think that the American public will demand a vote on offshore drilling and will not go along with the Democratic ploy of attaching a non-germane amendment onto the CR. They will see through it. A deal must inevitably be cut wherein the Dems get some of their conservation and flex fuel programs and the Republicans get their offshore and slate drilling — just like Paris Hilton suggested!

In the debate over offshore drilling, a key fact has been lost: States have to approve the drilling for it to happen. So California can continue to say no if it wants while Florida and New Jersey say yes. The other fact that is lost is that the state will get 40 percent of the revenues from offshore drilling. So it is really an answer to the state budget deficits and an alternative to higher taxation.