If they spoke English, "What the hell...?" might well be what the 'gators in the Louisiana wetlands would be asking the herons these days as the oil creeps in from the Gulf gusher. But, of course, those are actually the boneheaded words of BP CEO Tony Hayward , whose string of pronouncements over the past five weeks appears increasingly reptilian. The 'gators and herons have nothing to answer for. BP has had nearly 800 recorded safety violations since 2007.
Given BP's arrogant recklessness 800 fathoms beneath the sea and the whacks Hayward's shoot-from-the-lip style have gotten from the media, one would expect that the giant company's PR department would have by now stapled Mr. Hayward's tongue to the roof of his mouth for the duration. But apparently it is as helpless to stanch the flow of toxicity passing through his lips as engineers are to stop the oil gushing from the sea floor.
A politician's staff calls what Hayward is doing "misspeaking" when their boss is caught out. As when he said just a few days ago: "We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused to their lives. There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back." If the 11 dead oil workers could speak, they might have something to say about that. But, of course, Hayward had forgotten all about them in his bellyaching over what he has to put up with to collect his $4.5 million annual compensation package.
Previously, there was his "Almost nothing has escaped."
And who will forget Hayward's barfy dilution-is-the-solution-to-pollution declaration: "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume"?
And: "I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest." Something else for the 'gators to chew on.
Then there was "The oil is on the surface. There aren't any plumes." Some scientists and other underwater observers have had some things to say about that. None of them seems to have included: "liar."
Not only were there no plumes, but no ill effects from chemicals associated with the clean-up either. Hospitalized workers must have just eaten a bad batch of Cajun crawfish: "I am sure they were genuinely ill, but whether it was anything to do with dispersants and oil, whether it was food poisoning or some other reason for them being ill, you know, there's a — food poisoning is surely a big issue when you've got a concentration of this number of people in temporary camps, temporary accommodations."
If one were prone to generous assessments, Hayward's bottomless bag of clueless, insulting and ...uh... inaccurate comments might be chalked up to the inevitable stress inflicted on any point-man dealing with an unprecedented disaster. But what we're seeing are the man's true colors, each subsequently muted by clarifications and apologies. Long before BP lost control of its oil well, on May 9, 2009, Hayward had this to say about a critical self-assessment of his company: "We had too many people that were working to save the world."
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[h/t to Now Public.]