It's called having your cake and eating it too. It's called tightrope walking, and it's called election season politics. In what is one of Obama's very first explicit reelection campaign ads, the president defends his energy policies and attacks Big Oil and Mitt Romney.
It's a carefully calibrated TV spot that simultaneously seeks to appease moderates who worry that he's not drilling enough and reassure his liberal base, who worries that he's drilling too much, that he knows who the bad guys are:
The message is clear enough: The spot wants the viewer to recognize that Obama is a reasonable guy who has allowed oil companies to continue to expand drilling operations [cautious nodding]. He just doesn't think those companies should get tax breaks [no sir]—but Mitt Romney and Big Oil do [booo!]. Obama looks to the future on renewables [more nodding] but Romney doesn't [more booing].
In other words, Obama is pro-domestic drilling (which polls favorably) but anti-Big Oil (which never polls anything close to favorably).
Of course, in his 'fight against Big Oil' Obama has expedited half of the Keystone XL pipeline, removed a drilling moratorium after the biggest offshore oil spill in American history after only five months, and is now yanking regulatory hurdles for oil and gas companies so they can get their drills in the dirt faster. And Obama's biggest favor to Big Oil is perhaps keeping climate change, which its product is exacerbating, out of the public dialogue as much as possible.
Obama's 'fight against Big Oil' amounts to publicly scolding oil companies for the tax breaks they receive—nobody expected them to actually get repealed, seeing as how they are evidently invincible. But his message is poll-tested and battle-ready.