Cherchez le windfall
The Prime Minister may believe he's waving a loaded weapon when urging the power companies to cough up and help those finding it difficult to pay their energy bills.
But what they can see in those nail-chewed fingers is a loaded banana - and they don't feel terribly intimidated by it.
Or to put it another way, they don't believe that there's the faintest chance that he can levy a windfall tax on them.
And - which rather adds to their swagger - nor does the Treasury (although that doesn't impress the army of Labour backbenchers baying for a punitive levy).
What puts the kibosh on the tax is something rather basic: for most providers of gas and electricity to the likes of you and me, there is no windfall.
If they owned vast amounts of oil, gas or even coal which was being extracted within the UK, then there would (arguably) be a very substantial windfall profit that could perhaps be raided by the Exchequer.
But much of this stuff comes from other tax jurisdictions. And, anyway, the diminishing oil and gas that is pumped from the North Sea is already taxed at a very substantial rate.
So those big increases in domestic gas and electricity tariffs announced recently by Centrica, Edf and the rest are hard, in all fairness, to characterise as profiteering, much as we may wish to see them as such. The increments are attempts by those companies to limit falls in their profitability caused by the increase in what they pay for the power they sell.
No windfall: no windfall tax.
But what about the other great wheeze being pondered in Government, that of charging the companies a fat sum for permits to spew CO2 under the European Emissions Trading Scheme?
Well, that's no doddle either.
First, ministers fear there could be a challenge to such a re-writing of the permit distribution system from the European Commission in Brussels.
Second, our eurozone-owned power companies would fight such a levy with all their might, for fear that the French and German governments would introduce copycat charges.
As I say, that's a loaded banana sticking out from Gordon Brown's jacket pocket.
Except for one thing. He believes that the appalling public image of the power companies might persuade them to do the decent thing - as he sees it - and simply volunteer to hand over vast amounts of wonga to provide succour to beleaguered energy consumers.
It's a thought. But the Government's great announcement on its partnership with the power companies to tackle fuel poverty was supposed to happen this week and has been postponed.
And although it's not officially dead, ministers and power-company execs are cautioning me that they don't know when - or even whether - a deal will be struck.