Column: McCain will win if he has the energy

According to the experts, about the only way Arizona's John McCain can win in November would be for Barack Obama to do something incredibly stupid. For example, Obama could appear before thousands of cheering Mexicans in Juarez and wrap up his speech with, "Mr. Bush, tear down this wall!"

McCain's problem, at least from the perspective of people who care about border security and a whole lot of other "conservative" issues, is that they view him as just as likely as Obama to make that speech. But I know how McCain can win - how he can make me hold my nose and vote for him in November rather than skipping that part of the ballot: Energy policy.

McCain has some work to do in that regard. He clearly has no idea how markets work, and he opposes drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. Even with those drawbacks, though, he remains miles ahead of the Democrats' position of "let's pay more at the pump, let's pay more to heat and cool our houses, let's shovel tax dollars at stuff that might work and maybe someday we might get closer to the standard of living we once knew."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Alzheimer's) did a neat impersonation of a doddering old fool about a week ago on the Fox News Channel, telling a national audience that gas and coal are poisons that are killing us as well as planet Earth. His speech is drawing hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

The deal is, Reid is toeing the party line. Obama wants to transfer money from your wallet into speculative ventures that, as of right now, can't hope to meet our energy needs. Obama wants to levy a windfall profits tax on oil companies, then use that money to help people pay their energy bills. Why do I have a sneaking suspicion the people who will get that handout don't pay taxes already, and that folks like you and me will pay more at the pump when companies pass on that additional tax burden to the customers?

And the Democrats (as well as some Republicans) say drilling in the ANWR or offshore are "gimmicks" that won't solve today's energy problems and won't make any difference for 10 years. Never mind that Democrats have been saying that for more than 10 years.

What we really have here is a tipping point. Take off the rose-colored glasses and look closely at what the Democrats are offering when it comes to green energy. The most optimistic forecast I've seen is that we might get 20 to 25 percent of our energy from wind, solar and geothermal by 2025. That's all well and good if you are currently enjoying your recently lowered standard of living.

Here is what McCain should do, and it's so all-American it can't go wrong: Make his campaign one of pocketbook issues. There is an estimated 21 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Pinedale Anticline in western Wyoming. Work on accessing that is being slowed because the area is home to deer, antelope and grouse.

There are billions and billions of barrels of shale oil in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Oops, wildlife issues again. The same goes for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

McCain needs to hit home the fact that people are more important than deer and caribou.

Finally, McCain needs to push for energy development rules similar to those regarding the construction of the border fence - border security takes precedence over animals and environmental impact statements.

If McCain hammers home on that issue and continues hammering at every opportunity, he wins.