Six ways BP’s oil spill is seeping into politics
Forget about Wall Street — there’s a new villain in town. Big Oil is, at the moment, the dark lord of corporate greed and evil, and, not surprisingly, it’s starting to take center stage both in political campaigns and Washington politicking.
Here are six examples of oil creep:
1. Take his job and shove him: Louisiana Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) has the distinction of being the first member of Congress to call for BP CEO Tony Hayward to be fired. Melancon says he was particularly offended by Hayward’s quip, “I’d like my life back.” But clearly Melancon wants to distinguish himself as an enemy of all things BP, particularly since he’s running for the Senate seat held by Republican David Vitter, who’s been a leader in fighting for a liability cap on oil spill damages.
2. With friends like that …: The image of the burning Deepwater Horizon oil rig crops up in an attack ad against Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), who faces a primary runoff next week against a challenger from her left, Bill Halter. The spot, paid for by the League of Conservation Voters, zeroes in on the “almost half a million dollars” the oil and gas industry has laid on Lincoln. The Wall Street Journal‘s Peter Wallsten has more.
3. The passion of the Crist: Florida governor and Senate candidate Charlie Crist is back to opposing offshore oil drilling — a stance he held before flip-flopping to accommodate then-presidential candidate John McCain in 2008. “In order to be able to support offshore oil drilling, it’s got to be far enough, clean enough and safe enough. And in this recent example, it’s none of the three. It’s just not good enough, period,” Crist tells The Hill. Now, with oil looming toward his state’s beaches, Crist wants the state legislature to pass a constitutional amendment permanently banning drilling off Florida’s coast. Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek likes the idea; Republican candidate Marco Rubio doesn’t. Rubio’s strong Tea Party-backed campaign pushed Crist to run as an independent. Now Chris Matthews thinks the oil spill could give Crist a leg up over Rubio.
4. Oil as foil: According to a senior Senate aide, here’s the message Democratic leaders hope to hammer home in the weeks leading up to a vote on the American Power Act, the climate and energy bill introduced in the Senate by John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.):
You’ve got a very unsympathetic target in big oil. Big oil earns billions in profits and it doesn’t invest in the safety mechanism necessary to keep millions of gallons from spreading along the Gulf Coast. And you’re going to see a Republican Party side with big oil.
Alexander Bolton, writing for The Hill, has more on the Dem strategy.
5. What’s wrong with this picture?: VoteVets has been running an ad on cable in states with senators key to passage of the American Power Act. The star is a disgusted soldier holding up a plastic bag of oily gunk and pointing out that he didn’t join the National Guard to “clean up an oil company’s mess here in the Gulf of Mexico.” Ben Geman at The Hill reports on more ad campaigns pushing the energy bill.
6. Yes, it makes you look fat: Forget about fashion. Sometimes you just need to look like a barrel to make a point. Clean Energy Works has sent out to supporters detailed instructions for making their own oil-barrel costumes to wear at pro-energy bill demonstrations in 16 states. Step #8: Go cause trouble!