I hope you don’t mind my being so informal with you, but I feel like I know you. After all, you’ve visited my living room nearly every night for the past two months. I’ve watched in horror as untold thousands of barrels of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well have gushed into the Gulf each day, and hung on your every word as you’ve updated us all on everything BP is doing to get the situation under control. Rest assured, I know you are doing everything possible to contain the leaks. Not the oil, mind you. BP’s efforts in that regard are abyssmal. I’m talking about your ongoing attempts to control the flow of information, such as:
***Low-balling the estimate on the number of barrels of oil leaking per day, while delaying the live feeds that would have enabled independent experts to assess the situation for themselves. A bold move I must say!
***Forcing clean-up crews in your “Vessels of Opportunity” program – many of them fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened – to sign confidentiality agreements preventing them from telling anyone what they’re seeing, while instructing them to keep the media away from the damaged coastline for as long as possible. Pure genius!
***Spending $10,000 a day to purchase the most relevant search terms on Google and Yahoo, so that every time anyone tries to research “oil spill,” “oil leak,” or anything to do with the disaster, the BP website – showing just how wonderful your efforts have been – pops up first. Thank you for that. How refreshing to see a company that’s doing the right thing for the environment!
***Launching a $50 million ad campaign to tell us all how committed you are to paying every LEGITIMATE claim related to the disaster. It’s nice to know that in such troubled times, you have your very best lawyers on the case. Who knows, perhaps your efforts might inspire the Federal Investigators looking into BP to follow suit. Federal Environmental Protection Agency statutes allow for misdemeanor and felony prosecutions of corporations and individuals stemming from hazardous materials seeping into the environment. Don’t you just love lawyer-speak?
***Hiring Dick Cheney’s former press secretary – Anne Womack-Kolton (as well as her former PR agency, the Brunswick Group) – to beef-up your communications efforts. Brilliant! Let’s take a page out of the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” handbook. Perhaps you had your doubts on this one. Sure, Anne’s slick … but is she oil slick? Not to worry, my friend, I'm sure she’s had plenty of relevant experience. Valerie Plames, Oily Plumes … what’s the difference when you’re sweeping something under the rug!
Speaking of clean-up jobs, Tony, I’m afraid your biggest challenges lie ahead. Their names are Scott West and Jeanne Pascal. They're former EPA officials who have started leaking details about BP’s track record of safety violations. “BP is notoriously known for cost-cutting and putting dollars ahead of employee safety,” said West in one recent interview, “I’ve never investigated other oil companies like Shell or Mobil … I haven’t had to.” West was a top investigator for the EPA for 19 years. A Federal Prosecutor went so far as to call BP “a serial environmental criminal” and that was years before Deepwater Horizon. The good news, Tony, is that you have no shortage of weapons at your fingertips to dispose of these critics. A strategically-aimed Junk Shot right down their throats ought to do the trick … and if that doesn’t work, why not put one of your extra Containment Domes to good use? You must have a thousand tricks up your sleeve.
On a personal note, I know how difficult these past few weeks have been for you, Tony, and you have my deepest sympathies. You want your life back … and you deserve it. For your sake – and the sake of us all – I just hope your future is Beyond Petroleum.