Next week, for the fifth time since July, the first family will board Air Force One for yet another luxury vacation, this time to an exclusive Martha’s Vineyard estate that rents for up to $50,000 a week. But before they head north, the Obamas will first grace Panama City, Fla., with their presence this weekend for what is being billed as a “solidarity vacation to the Gulf Coast.” While in Florida, the President is expected to meet with local business leaders to discuss the effects of the spill before departing on a cross-country trip around the United States including stops in Los Angeles and Seattle to raise cash for Democrats and a stop in Wisconsin at a renewable energy factory. Not on the agenda? Any meetings with oil workers in other Gulf states who are now unemployed thanks to President Obama’s Gulf oil drilling ban.

If the President really wanted to see the economic damage his policies are causing in the Gulf, he could first stop in Pascagoula, Miss., where idle oil rigs in the Signal International shipyard have formed an eerie floating ghost city that locals have dubbed “Rig Row.” Instead of being deployed at sea where they could be creating wealth for this country and jobs for Gulf residents, these rigs are wasting away idly in port as a direct result of President Obama’s oil drilling moratorium – a moratorium that when first issued on just deep sea rigs, a federal judge ruled was “arbitrary and capricious.” Undaunted, the Obama administration doubled down, issuing a broader oil drilling injunction that is killing even more jobs than the first ban.

Gulf residents are extremely unhappy with these policies. An ABC News poll found that Gulf Coast residents disapproved of President Obama’s oil drilling moratorium by a 60-38 point margin. The issue has also dominated the hearings of President Obama’s own oil spill commission who, when they first convened, said they would spend no time investigating the rationale, effectiveness or impact of the oil ban. But faced with passionate opposition at hearings in New Orleans, former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham (D) and former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly (R), have done a 180-degree reversal. Last week the commission sent a letter to the Obama administration demanding a detailed justification for the ban by August 23. The commission shouldn’t hold their breath: the President is on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard until August 29.

Why is President Obama so eager to see Florida recover but doesn’t have the time of day for the other Gulf states? Eric Smith, a professor at the Tulane University business school, told FOX News: “The administration is in thrall to the environmental community, unfortunately, and as a result, they’re playing that card, and I think to try and slow up, or increase the cost of, hydrocarbons. I don’t blame them for doing that; I just think that’s the reality….After the [1989] Exxon Valdez accident, after the [1969] Santa Barbara accident, we certainly did study the accidents to figure out what went wrong and then take some corrective action. But we didn’t shut down the industry in the meantime.” The Obama oil ban isn’t about safety, it is about permanently shrinking our domestic oil production capacity as quickly as possible.

Quick Hits:

  • According to the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, the Wall Street bailouts funneled billions of dollars to foreign financial firms.
  • After reading a Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan op-ed in the Fresno Bee claiming Obama’s policies are decreasing foreclosure in California’s Central Valley, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) told Politico: “For him to try to convince my folks, who are suffering on a daily basis, that he’s right because he’s read some statistics in Washington when he doesn’t get it, it’s really just absurd.”
  • According to Gallup, by an 11-point margin, Americans want labor unions to have less power than they have today, and labor unions are less popular now in the United States than they have been for most of the last 70 years.
  • In San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that same-sex marriages could begin next week unless an appeals court intervenes.
  • Also in San Francisco, the city council is considering legislation that would ban Happy Meals.