A full month after befouling coastal waters with an explosion of black sludge that is still gushing from the deep, oil company explainers are out to persuade the public it isn't too bad after all (A BP honcho was soothingly omnipresent last night from the PBS News Hour to Anderson Cooper on CNN).
Insult to injury comes to mind as industry flacks try to minimize environmental harm abetted by Washington bureaucrats with, the New York Times reports, "prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope."
All this is corporate self-protection as usual, but the disaster is taking on larger significance in the political debate over offshore drilling in an era when hard choices are reduced to slogans about big government vs. free markets.
Last Sunday, 60 Minutes went below the surface static of corporate executives at Congressional hearings blaming one another to report on the reckless pressures exerted on crews to speed up results of drilling at unprecedented depths, even in the face of clear signs that catastrophic blowouts could be imminent, ignoring an unreported accident four weeks earlier.
As TV screens now show environmentalists shampooing and blow-drying sea birds while Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, once a GOP spokesman for less government, pleads for more Federal intervention, the oil spill soap opera goes on with a debate of whether "dispersants" to break up the sludge may be as toxic as the oil itself.
Against a background of ideological posturing about freedom from dependence on foreign oil vs. environmental protection, all this is a reminder that pushing for new solutions to old problems is risky and that Nature rarely provides Man with a free lunch.
But at the very least, spare us the large helpings of banana oil about what happened and what it may cost in the long run.