We really do pity politicians on the stump. They either offer endless iterations of the same points - Obama has recycled bits of his convention acceptance speech until they seem like tics - or they have to find a way to square too many circles to appeal to the widest possible audience.
But there are also unexpected grace notes. Here's McCain trying to merge offshore drilling with environmental concerns (we think):
And by the way, on that oil rig — and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this story — you look down, and there’s fish everywhere! There’s fish everywhere! Yeah, the fish love to be around those rigs. So not only can it be helpful for energy, it can be helpful for some pretty good meals as well. [We're not sure if McCain means good meals for the fish or for people who catch the fish - maybe both.]
This is kind of sweet and not a terrible way to bond with an audience. We couldn't find a study to show whether it's good, bad or indifferent for fish to cluster around oil rigs. But we would note that fish around oil rigs is not an argument to have oil rigs nor is their absence a reason not to have them. It sounds like an argument for the rigs' environmental friendliness, but it could also be an argument for their disruption of the ecosystem.
Plenty of people want offshore drilling, so there's no particular benefit to gilding the haddock. And since there doesn't seem to be evidence that the fish' presence means anything, the environmental argument floats away on the tide.
But it is charming, especially McCain's eagerness to talk about it. He's like a kid seeing his first shooting star.