January 24, 2018

Liberally speaking

The oil spill’s biggest victim: BP?

By Steve Mount

The latest liberal-leaning Internet meme is a new take on the Republican Party’s venerable elephant logo. You know the one — the red-bodied elephant with the blue upper body emblazoned with three big white stars.

The new meme converts the elephant to BP greens, with a dark green body and a light green upper body. The stars are replaced by the BP rosette, and the elephant’s truck has an oil gusher squirting out of it. The meme also renames the “Grand Old Party” to the “Grand Oil Party,” inserting the “B” from BP to make the point painfully clear: GObP.

The new icon comes from the creative staff of left-leaning news show host Keith Olbermann, and is intended to poke fun at (and speak truth to) the Republican members of Congress who have taken to defending BP from criticism.

The most blatant example was that of Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who went on record in a House committee hearing on June 17 and apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward. The day before, the Obama White House and BP had announced that BP would set up a $20 billion trust fund to help fund clean-up efforts and to compensate victims of the economic damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Barton called the agreement a “shake-down,” said that the agreement violated due process and that it was illegal. Barton was “ashamed” of the agreement, and apologized to BP and Hayward for it.

What the rest of us might call “the right thing” or “the least BP could do,” Barton was calling an illegal shakedown for which he was ashamed. The only shame should have been Barton’s. What he exposed himself as, as though we couldn’t already tell considering his accumulated campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry generally and from BP specifically, was a shill for the industry.

One member of Congress bending over backwards for the industry does not deserve a whole new logo, though. Fortunately for the logo makers, there were plenty of other Republicans who were more than willing to bend for BP.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. also put his foot in his mouth. After rightfully praising BP for paying out what claims it has already, he also lambasted the president for meeting with BP and coming to an agreement with them. What Barton and Price seem to forget is that it is the president’s job, the government’s job, to protect our nation and its people from all threats, including the threat of irresponsible companies and the threat of ongoing economic damage.

Frequently shrill Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. worried aloud that BP was going to get “fleeced” by claims and that the victims’ fund would end up being just a “redistribution of wealth.” Yes, from the cash-soaked BP to the broke and possibly bankrupt people of the Gulf region whose jobs and even careers were ruined by BP’s spill. If there is to be any redistribution of wealth, this is the place for it.

Finally, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, of “Drill, Baby, Drill!” fame, has been using Twitter and Facebook to come to the defense of BP. Citing an article that equates the trust fund to Nazism, Palin called the agreement “an unconstitutional power grab.”

Who are all these people kidding?

Every day, at nearly any hour, we can still turn on the television and watch as barrel after barrel of oil leaks out of the Deepwater Horizon well. I’m certainly troubled that our federal regulations did not require companies to have better plans for this sort of thing, but that is no excuse for this disaster.

In my last column, I wrote that the time to assess blame for the long-term effects of this disaster was not yet here. But there has been more than enough time to assess blame in the short-term. Any reasonable person would place that blame firmly on BP — heck, BP itself is taking the blame in interview after interview and hearing after hearing.

The attempts by these members of the GObP to deflect this short-term blame by raising the flag of unfairness, illegality or unconstitutionality are so transparent as to be laughable.

So don’t blame yourself for having a small chuckle over the BP-green elephant logo and the new moniker. A little dark humor helps us cope with disasters of this scale. It’s just unfortunate that we seem to need so much dark humor these days.

Steve Mount has been a Williston resident since 1996. He is a software engineer at GE Healthcare and is devoted to his family, his country and his Constitution. You can reach Steve at steve@saltyrain.com or read his blog at http://saltyrain.com/ls.

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