Still, they don't agree on where to drill, and if they did, it still wouldn't provide any help to motorists struggling at the pump and people facing record heating bills next winter.
For the second time in three weeks, President Bush on Friday called on Congress to lift a moratorium that has blocked energy development over 80 percent of the country's coastal waters and to allow drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge that environmentalists have fought successfully for decades to protect.
A few months ago, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the far northeastern corner of Alaska was considered a dead issue. Bush has argued for drilling in the refuge since he first stepped into the White House, but opponents repeatedly have voted it down in the Senate.
And the idea of opening the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, or the eastern Gulf off Florida's beaches to oil and gas companies has equally been long seen as a nonstarter. A succession of presidents from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton to the current president have sided against drilling in these waters as has Congress each year for 27 years, seeking to protect beaches and coastal states' tourist economies.
But that seems to be changing.
High crude oil and gasoline prices are affecting everything from food costs and summer vacations to the ability of volunteers to provide food to the homebound elderly.
America clearly is anxious and angry over energy.
And that has prompted Republican calls for more domestic oil and natural gas production to resonate
- even in areas once thought securely off limits for environmental reasons - although no oil would be expected to actually flow for close to a decade, if then.
Nearly half of the people surveyed by the Pew Research Center in late June said they now consider energy exploration and drilling more important than conservation, compared with a little over a third who felt that way only five months ago. The sharpest shift in attitude came among political liberals.
The message has reached Democrats.
"Let me be clear. Democrats support the domestic production of petroleum and other energy resources," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland declared the other day, then repeated himself for emphasis.
"When it comes to drilling, we're for it, no problem," added Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.
But new drilling means something different to congressional Democrats than it does to Republicans.
Democrats argue that oil companies aren't going after the oil where they already have leases, so why open new, protected areas. Democrats say there are 68 million acres of federal land and waters where oil and gas companies hold leases, but aren't producing oil.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, calls lifting the offshore drilling moratorium "a hoax, subterfuge, a decoy" that won't lower gasoline prices and won't produce any more oil anytime soon.