All those talking heads on TV and indignant voices on the radio talk shows have placed scathing invectives of blameworthiness on BP for the Gulf oil spill—and all have missed the true villain in this shameful mess.
Congress has dragged executives from any number of companies in front of this panel and that panel. Congressmen and women have chastised many, have assigned blame with incensed voices, have stood before the cameras and dutifully expressed their outrage for their constituents. And none of these representatives and senators has pointed the finger of blame at the real group of people responsible for beached tar balls from Texas to Florida.
Who is the real scoundrel to blame for this disaster?
This Shakespearean tragedy has played out before us now for three months. We’ve had Michael Crichton worthy conspiracy theories and O. Henry irony and Tom Clancy twists and turns. We have all the characters lined up on the world stage. And here we are, deeply into the third act and the audience still hasn’t figured out who the bad guy is.
Congress will surely, eventually, help us to the bottom of this mess. They will play Columbo and Monk and Sherlock Holmes and nail that evil BP. The problem is this: The most culpable party in this kabuki theater act is the apparent good guy.
Congress caused this disaster:
Congress has dutifully promised us a ‘full investigation’ and ‘new regulations’ to prevent this kind of disaster from ever happening again. Now we can all sleep better at night, knowing these people who have taken millions in campaign donations from the oil industry are watching out for our best interests. We need another meaningless unenforced regulation of the oil industry passed like we need another barrel of oil to wash up in Pensacola.
What we really need is to enforce the multitude of regulations we already have in place. What we need is to have Congress investigate itself. What we need is to find out why Congress didn’t do their job. What we need is to find out why nobody in any of the government regulatory agencies caught this oil spill before it happened. BP, Halliburton and Transocean executives have testified (ironically, before Congress) that the warning signs of a disaster were present before the oil rig exploded. This testimony should make you ask one question: Where were the congressionally assigned regulators when all these warning signs were occurring?
If Congress had only enforced the laws and regulations they already had in place, this oil rig would be known to only a handful of people. We’d all be driving our gas guzzling cars, going about our daily business, ignorant of just another oil well sucking crude from a mile below the Gulf’s surface. The people of the Gulf Coast would still be blaming Bush for Hurricane Katrina. The tourists would be filling the motels and restaurants and buying souvenir lacquered seashells made in China.
And Congress would still furtively be taking millions in campaign donations from the oil industry. Chances are very good, they still are. At least that hasn’t been impacted by the oil spill.