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McCain’s drilling stance at odds with California?

When advisors to presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain talk about California being “in play” as a possible GOP win this November, one might assume they’re counting in part on the exceedingly telegenic (if not-as-popular-as-he-used-to-be) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to carry some water for McCain here.

But yet again, McCain and Schwarzenegger find themselves on the opposite sides of a major issue despite the latter’s endorsement of the former.

McCain on Monday said he supports lifting the federal moratorium on offshore drilling, and letting individual states decide whether to allow drilling off their coasts; he’s selling the plan at a meeting of oil executives today in Houston.

“The governor supports the moratorium,” Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He fully and passionately supports John McCain for president, but they will disagree from time to time, and this is one of those cases.”

This isn’t just a matter of Schwarzenegger and McCain at odds; Schwarzenegger’s position jibes with some of McCain’s harshest Golden State critics.

“John McCain’s call to lift the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling is one of the clearest indications yet that a McCain Presidency would simply continue the disastrous policies of the Bush Administration,” California Democratic Party chairman Art Torres said today. “The fact that McCain supported the moratorium when he ran for president eight years ago shows that his supporters in the oil and gas industries have won him over this election year, at the expense of the environment. Californians are adamantly opposed to further drilling of our coast, one of our state’s most treasured natural assets. This November, voters will side with a leader who cares more about preserving and protecting our coastline than collecting campaign checks from Big Oil.”

And it’s not just this issue on which McCain and Schwarzenegger disagree.

Schwarzenegger has vowed to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot which would ban same-sex marraige; McCain said he supports it.

Schwarzenegger supports abortion rights; McCain does not.

Schwarzenegger supports universal health care, of a sort; McCain does not.

Schwarzenegger supports setting a timeline for withdrawing troops from Iraq; McCain says that’s “not too important.”

So — energy policy, gay rights, abortion, health care and the war in Iraq. The list of agreements gets smaller and smaller every day, it seems.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.