MINDLESS EXPLOITATION OF GAS PRICES…. It’s going to be a long month.

Republicans are getting ready to capitalize on record prices at the pump with a May focus on oil and gasoline.

The government shutdown battle put the issue on the back burner even though prices at the pump have been rising steadily since February. Now, with President Barack Obama already on the defensive, the GOP is ready to pounce.

House Republicans are planning bill introductions, hearings, markups and floor votes on legislation aimed at expanding domestic oil production in response to high gasoline prices.

Keep in mind, of course, that the Republican bills, hearings, markups, and votes won’t actually affect gas prices at all. They know that. But addressing an issue isn’t the point — the GOP doesn’t care about policymaking; it cares about giving the appearance of doing real work in the hopes the media plays along and voters won’t know the difference.

The need for credible fact-checking will likely be great, but as the circus gets underway I’d encourage folks to keep one key detail in mind: “Even a dramatic expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling will have little effect on oil and gas prices, as they are largely set on world markets.”

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.