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Column - Gulf gusher blame game should continue

So many people keep saying, "Stop the blame game! Just let's all be nice and get together and plug the Gulf gusher."

Yes, wouldn't that be nice?

Why, then, are so many of those very people, with such "good intentions," screaming like hysterics at a Salem witch trial and pointing fingers at the "liberal news media" and President Barack Obama? To hear the liberal-baiters tell it, the endless oil leak is the result of a vast left-wing conspiracy. And if the left wing and their media minions didn't directly cause the leak - well, make no mistake - they must be happy it happened because it will help liberal crypto-socialists fulfill their long-frustrated dream of destroying the capitalist oil industry.

To be sure, Obama did not respond vigorously enough to the crisis in its first days. He should have used the bully pulpit to rally the forces of help and force British Petroleum to be more forthcoming. He was slow to react, just as President George W. Bush was in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

As it turns out, it is that dastardly extremist media that managed to get things right. The media accurately reported, time and again for two months, what was actually happening in the Gulf, exposing one lie after another from the mouths of BP head honchos and their apologists. Among those apologists are a number of right-wing Southern governors and politicos whose very existence in the halls of power is - and has long been - dependent on big-oil money in the Gulf.

Was there any spectacle more sickening during this crisis than that of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) offering his fawning apology to BP during a Congressional hearing? When Obama did come around vigorously to demand a $20 billion escrow fund from BP to help people damaged by the gusher, Republicans, like Barton, squawked about how Obama's action was a "shake-down."

Southern politicians and big-oil sycophants blamed the media for a fall-off in tourist reservations; they blamed the media for exaggerating the spill; they blamed the media for promoting a blame game. As oil continued to wash up on formerly white-sand beaches, as it continued to suffocate sea life, as it kept smothering coastal estuaries, it was the news media that accurately reported every stage and twist of the catastrophe. Gee, too bad, though, that the media isn't more conservative, in which case the spill would probably be fixed by now, and impeachment proceedings would be under way against this wicked liberal president.

The first priority, of course, is to stop the oil leak. But a serious blame game is bound to continue, as well it should. Two big questions bristle in the air. What part did governmental de-regulations play in the disaster? Why did BP get away with their absurd-to-non-existent "emergency back-up plans?"

Two of the worst crises in the last 100 years - the Wall Street melt-down and the Gulf gusher - were largely the result of government de-regulations approved by politicians of both parties whose pockets were lined with big money. That is why a blame game should continue. Blame must be apportioned, and the guilty parties must be punished. Then, the laws must be completely rewritten to protect the American people and our environment. If that does not happen, these kinds of catastrophes will keep happening with sickening regularity.

All these ultra-right-wing foes of big government and enemies of regulations are partly to blame, too. Just leave the big money boys alone, and they'll do just fine. They'll invigorate the economy for one and all. How many times have we heard that old line? On the contrary. Many giant corporations, we are rapidly discovering, are not as socially responsible or financially accountable as we've been led to believe. Unregulated, unwatched, left to their own devices, too many corporate giants turn into foxes guarding the chicken coop.

Meantime, darn it, if we could just find a way to plug that stubborn leak. Hey, I got it! We could just round up all the radical-liberal reporters and shoot them down a tube into the hole. That'll fix it.

Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at