On July 27th and 28th, the New York Times published the following headline: "The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected." In the story that followed the headline, readers were informed: "The immense patches of surface oil that [once] covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the...oil rig explosion are largely gone."
Ironically, the man who predicted this would be case was the much-maligned Tony Hayward, former Chief Executive of British Petroleum (BP). While being grilled on Capital Hill about the oil spill earlier this year, Hayward described it as a "relatively tiny" one in comparison to the "very big ocean" in which it had occurred. Although the backlash Hayward faced by Democrats was nasty, Rush Limbaugh concurred with the BP boss, and stories like the one I cited from the New York Times seem to demonstrate that Hayward and Limbaugh were both correct.
Yet, not only does BP continue to be the target of heavy criticism by Democrats and environmental groups, it has even found itself in the crosshairs of Brad Pitt, who recently "said he would consider the death penalty for those to blame for the Gulf oil spill crisis." According to the UK's Daily Mail, Pitt's exact words were: "I was never for the death penalty before - I am willing to look at it again."
With all respect to Pitt, a seemingly reasonable guy who has made some great movies, it may be a bit over the top to support (or even consider supporting) the death penalty for a human being simply because that person was involved in an environmental disaster. How out of whack has our world become when someone of Pitt's stature can spend his whole life opposing the death penalty for men who commit crimes like rape and murder, then suddenly find a way to condone that punishment for men who accidentally spill oil in the waters of the Gulf?
Talk about turning teleology on its head.
Making matters worse, Pitt said these things almost a month after the New York Times and other media outlets informed readers that the spill will not be as bad as first thought.
And while Pitt is talking up the death penalty, Jeffrey Short, a former government scientist who now works with Oceana, is telling reporters that "40 percent of the oil in the gulf might have simply evaporated once it reached the surface" while another "unknown percentage of the oil would have been eaten by bacteria." (This doesn't even take into account the percentage of oil that was dissolved by the dispersants BP put into the Gulf.)
Simply put, the extent of the disaster predicted by many talking heads has been greatly reduced, if not done away, in many parts of the Gulf. And while this isn't to condone any degree of environmental recklessness, it is to say that we shouldn't be talking about "the death penalty" for men who may (or may not) have played a part in an oil spill that is "dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected."