You can't plug this satire spill

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

And sometimes, life imitates farce.

Thus the spectacle of BP's chief executive, Tony "I'd like my life back" Hayward, spending the weekend at a yacht race. Actually, watching his own yacht race. In an event called the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

You could make this stuff up, but then you'd be Christopher Buckley, skewerer of Beltway pretensions and corporate numbskullery. Every oil-soaked day, the gulf disaster seems more like a Buckley production: "Thank You for Spilling."

Or maybe "The White House Mess, Revisited." In this Buckley novel, the president orders up "Operation Open Door," a daily session with an "ordinary American." After President Obama's Haywardian 18 holes of golf, that might be in order -- except that he already gets a daily stack of letters from everyday American citizens.

Consider the farcical events so far:

-- The ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee offers a groveling apology to the oil company's CEO after one of the worst environmental disasters in American history.

What satirist could then top Texas Republican Joe Barton's coerced, linguistically mangled fauxpology? "If anything I said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction." Translation: It's your fault for hearing me right the first time.

-- The agency responsible for overseeing drilling approves a disaster plan that includes details for protecting the gulf's walrus population and instructions to contact a scientist who died five years ago.

This was par for the course at the Minerals Management Service. According to its inspector general, one official said he took industry gifts but only from "good friends that I wouldn't write up anyway." One was in job negotiations with a company whose drilling platforms he was inspecting. Another turned up for work buzzed on crystal meth.

-- The Swedish chairman of the British polluter emerges from the White House to proclaim corporate concern for the "small people." Imagine the musical theater possibilities, a duet of Carl-Henric Svanberg and Hayward channeling "Camelot":

Svanberg: Oh what do the small people do?

With pelicans covered in goo?

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