While elitist and panderer (well, at least one of those might be true) Barack Obama is canoodling with those cranky anti-war Germans, John McCain scheduled himself a nice little meet-cute with the press atop an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. Nearly three-quarters of Americans now approve of offshore drilling, and you can’t blame them. But in another stroke of bad luck, the senator’s campaign cancelled the photo-op this afternoon due to weather concerns. Hurricane Dolly is, of course, bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico, but as Ben Smith of Politico.com reported earlier today, the weather in New Orleans is lovely.
Perhaps the weather of concern is a different hurricane: Katrina. In their effort to sell the idea of offshore drilling, McCain, his surrogates and others in the Republican Party have outright lied about the impact of storms on oil rigs. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, rumored to be a possible running mate for his buddy McCain but denying any interest yesterday on FOX & Friends, was apparently unaware of the spills caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005: “One of the great unwritten success stories, after Katrina and Rita, these awful storms, [is that there were] no major spills,” he told FOX. Two years ago, the U.S. Minerals Management Service reported that there were 124 spills amounting to over 17,500 barrels of oil. It was kind of hard to miss…even from space.
The mere thought of a nearby hurricane doing its thing while McCain poses for photos on an oil rig that was not one of the 113 destroyed by storms three years ago should probably have been enough to send up a red flag at McCain headquarters, but it was more likely the fact that over 419,000 gallons of oil is, as I write, mixing with water 29 miles off the Mississippi River in New Orleans courtesy of a barge and tanker collision. The accident has produced a 12-mile-long oil slick and a stench that some might describe as “our future.”
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.