For now, the partisan divide couldn’t be any starker. Nearly every Democrat in Congress opposes taxpayer subsidies to profitable oil companies, and nearly every Republican in Congress wants to keep these industry incentives in place.

But Greg Sargent reminds us this morning that some in the GOP used to be more amendable to the Democratic idea.

Senate Dems are circulating this video of Senator Susan Collins of Maine on the Senate floor in 2008, making an impassioned case that it’s wrong to ask taxpayers to subsidize companies that make billions a year in profits:

“With net profits of a single oil company reaching almost 10 billion dollars in a single quarter, we simply should not expect taxpayers struggling to pay their energy bills to continue to subsidize the oil and gas industry,” Collins said. A Collins press release from that time makes the same point. […]

She’s not the only one. Senator John Thune, too, called for suspending the subsidies in 2006, but has since reversed course.

It’s shocking that members of both parties could be so “un-American,” right, ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva?

On a related note, Senate Dems remain on the offensive, unveiling a new video yesterday asking when Republicans will stop supporting Big Oil subsidies, emphasizing the fact that the industry already enjoys massive profits and doesn’t need additional incentives.

YouTube video

Pay particular attention to the quote from former Shell CEO John Hofmeister, who told MSNBC, “The actual subsidies are so small they’re very incidental to a business the size of the one I was formerly with.”

It’s a pretty good clip, though it’s worth noting that it almost certainly won’t appear on television — it’s too long and appears to be intended to be shown online.

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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.