Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) late Tuesday said the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill has begun embarrassing pro-oil drilling senators over the "drill, baby drill" catchphrase that became a Republican rallying cry in 2008.

Asked by a reporter if fellow senators have agreed to support his efforts to limit oil exploration in the eastern Gulf, Nelson said he has begun gently mocking some of them as the British Petroleum oil spill begins to threaten U.S. Gulf coasts.

"I'll tell you, privately I've gone up to a few senators who've been for drilling and I have sarcastically said to them in a whisper, 'Drill, baby drill,' " Nelson said. "And they roll their eyes as if in mock horror at the possibilities of what could happen as a result of this disaster."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele pioneered the phrase in a speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention, and it was prominently repeated in the October 2008 vice-presidential debate by GOP nominee Sarah Palin.