• We wouldn’t have let Bush get away with this

    OK, it’s time for the Come To Jesus talk about the Gulf oil spill.

    Now, I love Barack Obama, really and truly, but let’s be honest: If this disaster occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, the Liberal Left would be demanding his head on a platter. Keith Olbermann would self-combust from indignation and angst-ridden Rachel Maddow would wring her hands clean off. (And be clear, I love Keith and Rachel too. But you know I’m right.)

    When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Bush & Co were viciously – and deservedly — criticized for their impotent response while thousands of people were suffering and even dying. As the country watched in horror, the government responded in slow motion.

    To call the current administration’s response to the oil spill “slow motion” would be a gross understatement. So far, the government hasn’t done much but assign blame and threaten criminal action. And while BP deserves to be drawn and quartered in court for the environmental disaster they’ve caused, that does nothing to solve the problem at hand.

    While Congress prepares to spank BP, even more oil is gushing into the Gulf than BP estimated and the spill is devastating everything it touches. According to the Associated Press, a siphon inserted into the leak is capturing 210,000 gallons of oil per day, which was the totality of BP’s original estimation. The AP story, posted online on May 20, said a live video feed of the leak shows “a large plume of oil and gas still spewing next to the tube.”

    U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) pretty much summed it all up: “What you see are real-time images of a real-world disaster unfolding 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf. These videos stand as a scalding, blistering indictment of BP’s inattention to the scope and size of the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States.”

    Oh, hell yeah! Take THAT BP!

    But. (There’s always a “but.”) Dial this back a bit, and consider that the federal government is responsible for monitoring oil drilling in U.S. waters. Just like it’s responsible for monitoring the banking system. Clearly, the government has done an equally crappy job of both. Obama isn’t responsible for letting either the Big Banks or Big Oil burgeon beyond control. He inherited that. But dammit, he’s the President now, and he has to be held accountable for the government’s response henceforth.

    Just as he was when Wall Street collapsed, Obama is calm, cool and collected about these oil spills. He says he’s angry, but I don’t see it. I want Obama looking fire and brimstone furious, not merely mildly disappointed. I want him to go all Lewis Black over this oil spill, but all he’s done is point the finger at BP and tell them it’s their problem to solve.

    That was fine for a day or two. But when the leak kept gushing, and BP clearly had no clue about what to do – cap it, siphon it, throw shredded tires down the pipe or click your heels three times and say “There’s no place like home” – the government should have stepped in, taken control and sent the bill to BP later.

    Let’s examine this spill with a forest fire template. Imagine the Mother of all forest fires is raging out of control. It’s a hot, dry summer, and all of Colorado is in flames and the wind-whipped blaze is threatening the entire Rocky Mountain Range. What if all Obama had to say was, “Let the guy who started the fire with his cigarette butt figure out how to put out the fire.” Come on! We’d be self-combusting right along with Keith!

    And let’s say weeks go by, and all that’s left of Colorado is scorched earth, and half of Wyoming is now ablaze as the inferno devours everything in its path, and not one firefighter has been summoned, not a single load of fire retardant dropped – nothing. And Obama’s only response is that he’s really, really angry about all this, yesiree. Rachel herself would be shrieking “impeachment!”

    Yet here we have an environmental catastrophe of similar proportion and the government’s only response is to say they’re angry and blame Somebody Else? We wouldn’t have accepted this from Bush, and we shouldn’t accept it from Obama either.

    Barack Obama, I love you. I love you more than chocolate covered cherries and cabernet. But you need to step up and deal with this oil spill. Now. Gather up the best scientists and engineers on the planet, and get them on board. Pronto. ‘Round the clock until that leak is stopped. Don’t wait for BP to solve the problem. The primary focus of any solution BP concocts will be to protect their profit margin.

    Here’s what I’d have done (about three weeks ago, mind you): In the days just after the explosion, when it became clear that BP was incapable of stopping the spill, I’d have sent a nuclear submarine down there, aimed a missile right at the base of that drill, blown that bad boy up, and let the sea floor collapse and crush the drilling line flat. Maybe you still can. Ask the scientists and engineers.

    Next, I’d yank every single offshore drilling permit along our shores and scrutinize every nut and bolt on every rig before they sucked out one more drop of oil. And the folks at BP? I’d let them work off their prison time cleaning up the mess they made. Judging from the magnitude of this disaster, they’ll have a lifetime to finish, and then some.

    Sunday, May 23, 2010
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