What happened
President Bush on Monday lifted an 18-year-old White House moratorium on offshore oil drilling, but a parallel ban by Congress remains in place. (Baltimore Sun)

What the commentators said
Lifting the executive order against offshore drilling won’t ease the pain from $4-a-gallon gasoline, said John Hinderaker in the blog Power Line, but it focuses attention where it belongs. “Congressional Democrats are now the only force standing between American consumers and access to vast quantities of petroleum.”

What an empty “gimmick,” said the San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial. Lifting a ban that will really stay in place is “a largely symbolic act that gives the appearance of action where none exists.” The nation would be better served if Bush would come up with a real energy policy.

Bush has surely ratcheted up the pressure on Congress to lift its ban, said The New York Times in an editorial, but lawmakers should resist. Offshore drilling won’t make us energy independent, or even “bring short-term relief from $4-a-gallon gasoline.” Besides, oil companies “already have access to substantial unexplored resources.”

Support for the drilling ban is already getting shakier in Congress, said Richard Simon and James Gerstenzang in the Los Angeles Times. And even if lawmakers keep the drilling ban in place, Bush will have a "political cudgel" to use in an election year in which record pump prices stoke voter anxiety.