BARBOUR LEADS WITH HIS CHIN…. It stands to reason Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) will be going after President Obama quite a bit this year, as the Republican moves forward with his presidential ambitions. But Barbour may want to exercise caution when it comes to energy policy.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) is accusing the Obama administration of deliberately driving up energy costs, comparing the destructiveness of high gas prices to the financial troubles of Wall Street.

“This administration’s policies have been designed to drive up the cost of energy in the name of reducing pollution, in the name of making very expensive alternative fuels more economically competitive,” said Barbour in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC on Tuesday morning. […]

In remarks to reporters after the speech, Barbour repeated that the Obama administration’s policy “is to drive up energy prices.”

As a substantive matter, this is terribly silly, for Barbour. Not only would the administration have no incentive to drive up energy prices on purpose, it’s far from clear how an administration would go about achieving such a goal, even if it wanted to. (I’ll look forward to the governor blaming uprisings in Libya on the Obama White House.)

But by even bringing up the subject, Barbour only reminds us that he was a well-paid corporate lobbyist for the energy industry, which later helped bank-roll his campaigns.

He is, in other words, pressing the Obama administration to do more to make the oil industry happy, hoping we’ll overlook the fact that Barbour has been paid millions to represent the oil industry’s interests.

Besides, the criticism also offers the president’s supporters a chance to remind folks that this White House has — in face of Republican opposition — pushed for a major commitment to clean energy, to help lower the costs of energy, and help insulate Americans from the erratic oil market and dependence on the Middle East.

Barbour doesn’t have to like any of this, and he can stick to a foolish all-drilling-all-the-time alternative, but to dabble in conspiracy theories is absurd, and to shill for the industry given his background is asking for trouble.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.