The BP oil spill and the religion of big oil

A nice column today by the Washington Post’s irrepressible Dana Milbank, who takes some pokes at the oil state politicians – mostly Republicans – who claim the BP oil spill was an “act of God,” so there’s no point in punishing BP or poking the government’s nose into their business.

He cites the bizarre theology of Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who “delivered the startling revelation last week that the BP oil spill was caused not by a faulty blowout preventer but by the Almighty Himself. He explained the spill to an Oklahoma City radio station like this: ‘Acts of God are acts of God.’”

And this guy is in Congress?

Not far behind, in Milbank’s account of the religion of oil: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a Republican, who said about the spill “from time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented."

Milbank sums it up: “This interpretation is at the very cutting edge of ecclesiastical thought. In the past, our Heavenly Father has involved himself in floods, droughts and the occasional earthquake, but this may be his first foray into industrial disasters.”

And since it’s God, of course there’s no need to investigate BP’s safety practices, or to toughen regulation of the drillers, or – heaven forbid – to be more careful about opening up new areas for oil exploration and drilling.

This, of course, points back to the incredible confusion of so many oil state politicians like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who are at the forefront of the movement to cut government down to size, lower taxes as a way of forcing big cuts in government programs, slash regulation and let industry regulate itself.

But then, when some big disaster strikes, they are the first to accuse a federal government they hate of not doing enough. You notice these anti-government free marketeers aren’t saying ‘hey, let’s let BP take care of our polluted beaches.”

But I digress. Getting back to Milbank, he’s sick and tired of the “belief in corporate divinity” among our leaders, and has a suggestion: “Pardon the sacrilege, but for a real deterrent, it’s time to institute a corporate death penalty — and BP is a perfect candidate. That sort of retribution would be divine.”

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.