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Obama: Get the Pre-Nup

June 19, 2010

Take It from Me Obama, Get the Pre-nup, We’ve been screwed before.

Chairman of BP, Carl-Henric Svanberg:
“And we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care. But that is not the case indeed, we care about the small people.”

Like a lover who really wants to believe that their husband is not going to cheat once again, President Obama has taken BP back. But what the President doesn’t seem to recognize is that BP and the rest of the oil companies are about as faithful as Bill was to Hillary. Promises have been made before, and broken, and broken….

Shirley Bassey: They say the next big thing is here… that the revolution is near… but to me it seems all quite clear… That it’s all just a little bit of history repeating…

I remember when I was 7 years old sitting in front of my Zenith watching the Exxon Valdez disaster spill out before my eyes. My Dad and Mom fighting in the background, as he was suspiciously late again coming home from work. The Alaskan birds, the coastline covered in the same substance that would later cover the Gulf of Mexico. That week in March 1989 would be stuck in my mind forever, not because my parents divorce was imminent but there something in my young mind that clicked… that father figures weren’t to be trusted, dad’s, presidents, ceo’s…

We were always told the story was simple human error, ‘Drunken Skipper at Fault’ – that was what Exxon fed us and the media ate it up.  It wasn’t until I came across Greg Palast’s book ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy’ that I found that there was another side to the story, at first I skipped over the famous parts of his book, the stolen election of ’00, Enron and obsessed over ‘A Well Designed Disaster.’ Palast’s assertion (and proof) that it wasn’t the drunken skipper, but Exxon’s criminal negligence and BP’s lack of contractually agreed containment equipment that led to the largest US environmental disaster (until April 20th) was earth shattering. Accidents like this don’t just happen. (These reports would lead me to years later seek him out to intern with his office and then become one of his researchers/producers).

Two of the largest corporations in the world were complacent, not just in the horrible accident but in what should have been a unheard of level of criminal liability.

Exxon spent the proceeding years doing everything within their power to avoid paying damages, which originally were found to be upwards of $5 billion. The video of Exxon’s manager of Alaska operations luckily saved by shows him taking questions from Alaskan Fisherman who were already feeling the hurt days after the spill.

Alaskan Fisherman: Is Exxon’s shipping company is prepared to reimburse commercial fisherman for the lost income from fisheries…

Don Cornett, Exxon’s manager of Alaska operations: You won’t have a problem… I don’t care if you believe that or not, that’s the truth. You have had some good luck and you don’t realize it… You have Exxon and we do business straight. (shouts from the audience) We will consider whatever it takes to keep you whole… now that’s… You have my word on that, Don Cornett, I told you that.”

But sadly the day the Valdez struck the reef was a lesson not learned, and during the Clinton and GWB years we slipped closer and closer to the invevitablilty of another spill. Not to say that there weren’t many in the two decades that separate the Valdez and Horizon. But none had the media’s attention, as few had the oil covered birds, and sea creatures… and most were in cold places where few of the network anchors like to tread. (Check out Jason Leopold’s recent Truthout Article)

I’m holding out my hope for change until I see the contract – and a promise that the $5 billion dollar payments will keep coming -but I want more than their word. Even if BP were to go belly up tomorrow the assets go somewhere… if BP doesn’t make good on their commitment I think Obama should take a page from scorned ex-wife’s across the country – GET A PRE-NUP.

Zach Roberts is a documentary filmmaker currently working on a film about Sarah Palin’s real Alaska: The Rogue Candidate ( Previously he produced the BBC Investigative journalist Greg Palast’s DVD’s  Palast Investigates, The Election Files and Big Easy To Big Empty.

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