Vice President Dick Cheney's office says it isn't true. Mel Martinez even went to the Senate floor to blast its veracity. And columnist George Will said it isn't so.
But the claim that China is drilling some 60 miles off Florida's coastline won't die. In the latest incident, the Missouri Democratic Party has posted a YouTube clip of Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., telling his constituents that "China's within 40 miles of our coast right now, drilling for oil, taking it out of the ground."
The clip features Graves repeating the claim even after Cheney and Martinez discredited it, along with a guest appearance by Martinez, calling the reports "akin to urban legend."
A spokesman for Graves referred the blog, Talking Points Memo, to a 2006 New York Times story that is often cited as the source of the drilling claim. The story doesn't say China is drilling, but was hoping to drill in Cuba. China doesn't however, hold any offshore leases, Martinez and others say.
But that hasn't stopped Republican lawmakers from using the spectre of China to push for opening Florida shores to drilling.