What happened
A Democratic bid to impose steeper taxes on big oil companies’ profits stalled in the Senate Tuesday. A second measure aiming to promote new energy sources also failed, shortly after the nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline hit $4 a gallon. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
Thank goodness none of this “silly legislation” passed, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. There isn’t an economist alive who thinks a windfall profits tax is a good idea, and a proposal to authorize the attorney general to sue OPEC on antitrust grounds would be a disaster. Congress can’t pop the oil price bubble—“the danger, though, is that lawmakers may make things worse.”

This “drill-nothing Congress” has been making matters worse for years, said Investor’s Business Daily in an editorial. Not a drop of oil was spilled from the 3,200 oil rigs off Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, which proves that drilling and the environment "are not mutually exclusive." Yet lawmakers have voted consistently to keep 85 percent of America’s offshore oil and gas off-limits” by blocking drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the West, where porous shale rock holds three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Voters aren’t happy about this, said Larry Kudlow in National Review Online. Over the past year, support for more drilling in coastal and wilderness areas has jumped from 41 percent to 57 percent. That presents a big opportunity for the presidential candidate brave enough to come up with a pro-growth energy plan that includes “major new drilling.”

That’s the same recycled “drill, drill, drill rhetoric” that President Bush and his allies in Congress have been spouting for years, said Carl Pope in USA Today. Tapping “special places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would take years to provide relief, and even then “the effect on prices at the pumps, if any, would be pennies.” Clean energy and more efficient technologies “could do 10 times more to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”