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It’s all become terribly surreal. From BP’s attempts to hide the amount of oil being leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, to their repeated failures to stop the leak, to James Carville criticizing a Democrat president, to that same President attempting to mold his attitude to perceptions he is too weak, to Congress holding hearings that can’t do anything except provide media face-time for legislators, and now to Kevin Costner stepping forward with his magical machine that extracts oil from water. The whole thing has become a Lewis Carroll adventure.

About the only thing we haven’t heard is some religious nut saying the Gulf crisis is God’s punishment for homosexuality or illegal immigration or something – but just give Pat Robertson some time. Or the UFO nuts claiming it’s the work of the “grays” in their ongoing struggle against their archrivals the “blues” (or is it the “greens”?).

One thing is certain: things aren’t getting any better. The government is nagging BP to pony-up money for clean-up, for lost wages along the Gulf coast, for car fare, and for just about everything else. BP at first said they would spend “whatever it takes”, but lately it’s become obvious it’s going to take a lot, and they are starting to dig-in against further payments. Expect them to point out they have spent more than the $76 million damage cap that federal law allows.

And look for President Obama to start saying stupid Bush-esque things like he’s going to “kick some ass” and “bring it on” and whatever else his advisors think will make him appear to be on top of things.

And look for the media to start institutionalizing the crisis: oil spill reality shows are sure to be in preparation now. New media star careers are being launched, while old ones are rejuvenated (Anderson Cooper has found a new reason to wear t-shirts that show-off his biceps). If things go on much longer Fox will create a new show that attempts to link the spill with liberal conspiracy theories.

And most of all look for this to somehow become a hot issue in the upcoming election campaigns. The Democrats will try to pin it on the Bush administration and their neglect of domestic energy policy. The Republicans will try to pin it on the Obama administration for not having crisis management systems and protocols in place – didn’t they learn anything from Katrina?

And look for gas prices to go up – the oil companies won’t be able to resist the temptation much longer. As BP flounders there will be an attempt to justify price hikes due to “lost production” or “increased safety costs” or some rubbish. I’m only surprised they didn’t start-in after the first explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon platform. It isn’t like them to show restraint.

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