From Rachel Maddow’s show closing on June 2, 2010.
President Obama returns to this coast tomorrow for his third visit since the BP oil disaster began, my guess is that he will feel concern for the welfare of this region. He will feel frustration at the failure to keep oil off these shores. He will feel pressure as an executive, as a leader, as a politician to do something more about this crisis.
But I’m also pretty sure that President Obama will feel disgusted. Because what he will encounter when he gets out into this oil is disgusting.
The oil now coating the wildlife and the beaches of this beautiful coast stinks; it STINKS; it smells bad, it is slimy, it is sticky, it is toxic, even if Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour wants to say that it’s not. It is irredeemably foul, and it is everywhere.
And when you come upon it in person, having only seen it on television, at least if you are me, you are overwhelmed by the post-apocalyptic sensory experience of a man made disaster irretrievably destroying part of our country.
You are disgusted that BP put this ocean and this coast and these communities inland in jeopardy. Disgusted at the billions of dollars of quarterly profits that lined the oil industry’s pockets and deepened their wells and didn’t do a thing to prevent this.
You are disgusted that the government let BP and the rest of the industry do it. Disgusted that American leaders screamed "drill baby drill" without considering the consequences, all in the name of whoring themselves for a few votes during the few months that gasoline prices were rising.
Disgusted that the booms off this coast meant to protect it mostly aren’t doing anything; disgusted that those booms remain largely unmanned; disgusted that there isn’t much more to do, except maybe put more people here to try to make this totally inadequate technology try to work less horribly than it does.
This is not hurricane Katrina; this isn’t another Katrina. This isn’t another anything. This is a whole new thing, happening to us. This is America’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. We all own it forever.
And right here, right here in Grand Isle and all along the Gulf coast, there are only three things that matter: stopping the oil from flowing, protecting the coast and the ocean from the millions of gallons of oil that have already spilled, and making sure that this never ever happens again.
You can diagnose whether we have a functioning media in this country by whether or not the country understands that this is a vile environmental mega-disaster.
You can diagnose whether we have a functioning political system in this country by whether or not the results of this mega-disaster is change.
Big Oil has been too rich to care about what it was putting us all at risk for. And we’ve been too cowardly to change direction and break free from them.
If that changes because of our national disgust at this disaster, then America’s political system in 2010 works. If it doesn’t change, then it doesn’t work.