Monday, June 21, 2010

Shilling for BP, As Expected

Sometimes it's not just Rush Limbaugh. It's also his listeners, or at least those sufficiently manipulated and animated that they call in to him. From Monday's episode:

CALLER: I don't think BP should be responsible for the regime's decisions -- i.e., the stopping of the offshore drilling and all those people down there unemployed because of it. There's no way that BP is responsible for that, and they're not responsible for the delayed cleanups, either.

RUSH: All of this is true. Let me translate this folks. What he's talking about here is there are going to be beaucoup oil workers out of work because Obama has shut down all oil drilling in the Gulf. We have 33 rigs out there and in Alaska now, and BP is been forced -- by the way, part of this slush fund, there's a hundred million dollars BP has to pay so that Obama can give the out-of-work oil workers in the Gulf of Mexico their payment, their checks.

Contrary to the assertion of the caller and agreement by Limbaugh, President Obama hardly is responsible for "all those people down there unemployed because of" the stopping of offshore drilling. Offshore drilling, in the wake of the BP disaster, has not been "stopped"- a moratorium has been ordered. Previously, on April 1, in what we now wish were an April Fool's joke, the Washington Post reported

In what could represent the biggest expansion of offshore energy exploration in half a century, Obama announced that he will open the door to drilling off Virginia's coast, in other parts of the mid- and south Atlantic, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and in waters off Alaska.

Odd that both the caller and Limbaugh, who claims "it's not BP's fault that the government was lax in doing what it could have done." Under President Obama, Limbaugh continually maintains, the U.S.A. is hurtling toward socialism; yet, when a mammoth oil company creates an environmental disaster, it is that government which needs to save us all. Or at least save BP from itself and from the anger of the American people.

Only Rush Limbaugh and the confederation of corporate shills in right-wing talk radio could hold the federal government or Barack Obama primarily responsible for "the delayed cleanups." Writing in Rolling Stone, Tom Dickinson explained

Nowhere was the absurdity of the policy more evident than in the application that BP submitted for its Deepwater Horizon well only two months after Obama took office. BP claims that a spill is “unlikely” and states that it anticipates “no adverse impacts” to endangered wildlife or fisheries. Should a spill occur, it says, “no significant adverse impacts are expected” for the region’s beaches, wetlands and coastal nesting birds. The company, noting that such elements are “not required” as part of the application, contains no scenario for a potential blowout, and no site-specific plan to respond to a spill. Instead, it cites an Oil Spill Response Plan that it had prepared for the entire Gulf region. Among the sensitive species BP anticipates protecting in the semitropical Gulf? “Walruses” and other cold-water mammals, including sea otters and sea lions. The mistake appears to be the result of a sloppy cut-and-paste job from BP’s drilling plans for the Arctic.

The oil behemoth Rush Limbaugh (and much of the GOP) defends never prepared any realistic plans for dealing with an oil spill. Surely, the federal government deserves blame because it failed to regulate the industry, allowing it to regulate itself. It was a triumph of the modern deregulatory ethos pioneered by Ronald Reagan, endorsed by the Republican Party, pursued vigorously by the GW Bush administration, and tolerated by the Obama administration, especially by its Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar.

Establishment of the $20 billion escrow fund, one would expect, would at least be recognized by both parties as a simple, humanitarian gesture. Sadly, it has been attacked as "a shakedown" by some Republicans and, additionally, as a "slush fund" by Limbaugh. Define "slush fund" specifically as a "fund for buying votes or bribing public officials" or more generally as "money stored for illegal or dishonest purposes." Either way, it is yet one more example of the contempt Rush Limbaugh has for ordinary American citizens that he would denigrate as a "slush fund" an effort to reimburse individuals and families which have been devastated by the appallingly bad behavior of a corporate giant.

If only we could say that Limbaugh has reached the depths of his loathing for the American people. Unfortunately, he has not.

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