Obama's Oil Spill Speech Deconstructed

06/16/2010 05:11 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges. [All of which you have exacerbated--they are not challenges from the Almighty.] At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. [Our top priority is to remove the conditions that make prolonged high unemployment and economic dissatisfaction likely, which you don't even seem to understand.] Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists. [Right, the Bush line. Take the fight to them, before they bring it to us. Only 3 sentences to morph into Bush?] And tonight, I've returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we're waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens. [You make it sound like some God-imposed calamity Moses is confronting.]

On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about forty miles off the coast of Louisiana. [It just happened, dude! I mean, who coulda known?] Eleven workers lost their lives. Seventeen others were injured. And soon, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, oil began spewing into the water. [You sound so passive, Obama, as if these were acts of God. Nice lyrical touch, though.]

Because there has never been a leak of this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. [Oh yeah, everything we've faced in the last ten years has been completely unprecedented. No one could have known.] That is why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation's best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge - a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation's Secretary of Energy. [Also you assembled some real environmentalists, some real outsiders.] Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice. [Also, some real environmentalists, some real outsiders--hey, maybe even some socialists.]

As a result of these efforts, we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. [Directed or pleasantly requested? In an interoffice memo?] In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well. [I so believe that Obama. Also, we have disabled 90% of the Al-Qaeda leadership, and we have killed the Al-Qaeda third-in-charge--again.] This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely. [Either that, or the whole well will drain out completely, whichever comes first.]

Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. [Right, keep saying over and over, it's the worst ever, somehow the magnitude of it is supposed to excuse it. Oh my God, the worst terrorist disaster ever. The worst economic disaster ever. The worst flood ever. The worst stolen election ever.] And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. [Your people have been using this new talking point a lot. It's supposed to excuse the infinity of excuses?] The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years. [An epidemic--like terrorism? Perpetual war against oil?]

But make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long it takes. [Yeah, fight it for the next fifty years.! The Long War against oil?] We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. [Like, how much thirty, forty, fifty billion dollars? Or were you thinking more like one or two billion?] And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy. [Wait, am I in Bush's 2005 Katrina speech or what?]

Tonight I'd like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what we're doing to clean up the oil, what we're doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we're doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again. [Spoken like a true corporate bureaucrat--going forward! I guess it's not time yet to play the blame game?]

First, the cleanup. From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation's history - an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost forty years of experience responding to disasters. [I'm very comforted by this thought--also by the thought that this is the largest response, according to you. Largest somehow makes you less culpable, so keep emphasizing that.] We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and cleanup the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I have authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast. [Blah, blah, blah...emphasize the big numbers. They'll impress us.] These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from coming ashore, clean beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims - and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible. [Bigness, gigantic distant responses, without local, pragmatic input will do it every time.]

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming, and other collection methods. [Like five million out of 200 million?] Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. [Am I in the Bush 2005 Katrina speech again?] We have approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try and stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we are working with Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines. [Also, you and Bush having destroyed the Gulf states, you might want to rebuild all of Louisiana itself--why not relocate it to where God-created disasters like broken levees and busted wells can't do it any harm. I suggest a little to the northeast of Vermont would be a good relocation plan for Louisiana.]

As the clean up continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states may need. Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges will always arise. [Let the perfect never be the enemy of the good. New challenges--like those relief wells not working as you're told they will?] I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. [Thank you, O Monarch, for descending to our pathetic level. How's it like when you meet and great "real" people? Good thing you can always go back after a day or two.] So if something isn't working, we want to hear about it. [Where? The TIPS line Bush set up for terrorists? Like, I feel bad about the water I'm drinking in Louisiana. Where should I call?] If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them. [Maybe get Petraeus over here?]

But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife. [Yeah, I mean, okay, now that you put it after all those millions of things you're deploying on our behalf, it don't sound so bad.] And sadly, no matter how effective our response becomes, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done. [Siege? Siege? You're calling it a siege? Like the Russian armies are at the coast of Louisiana? Who gave you that metaphor?] That's why the second thing we're focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast. [Uh-oh, Bush 2005 Katrina speech again.]

You know, for generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water. [Oh boy, the lyricism--the memoirist in you rising to the fore.] That living is now in jeopardy. I've talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don't know how they're going to support their families this year. [Good human touch, you sound totally human. Maybe you should give some version of this speech in Baghdad, Kabul, and Peshawar. Lots of dead or soon-to-be-dead families there too.] I've seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers - even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I've talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists will start to come back. The sadness and anger they feel is not just about the money they've lost. It's about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost. [We're so grateful, holder of the office Jefferson once held, for meeting and greeting us. I mean, it really makes it special when the per-sident comes down to meet and greet and share some barbeque with the help--I mean, real people.]

I refuse to let that happen. [Oh boy, balls. Anger. Fire.] Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. [Because Matt Lauer reminded me to. Tomorrow you should take the BP chairman's balls, twist them with some German wire, cut them off, and eat them--in the Oval Office.] And this fund will not be controlled by BP. [BP don't control nothin'. It's YOU in charge. Come on, Obama, we've always known that. No need to state the obvious.] In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party. [Senator Alan Simpson?]

Beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short-term, it's also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. [Back in the Bush 2005 Katrina speech.] The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that has already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. [These are all acts of God! I mean, I have no idea where these terrible things came from. The people who funded my campaign had nothing to do with these economic disasters and environmental calamities. Stuff happens.] And the region still hasn't recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. [Yeah, I mean, you know, another fifty years or so, we'll be there.] That's why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment. [How about that relocation to Vermont plan again? And send the people to Panama.]

I make that commitment tonight. [Emotional high point of speech? Totally works for me.] Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, a former governor of Mississippi, and a son of the Gulf, [I didn't know the Gulf could breed, but all right, whatever] to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. [You're sounding more and more like some Romanian or Uzbek dictator with your grandiose restoration plans. Is that a five-year or ten-year plan?] The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists, and other Gulf residents. [And also the oil companies.] And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region. [Like fifty billion, or one billion?]

The third part of our response plan is the steps we're taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again. [Hanging chads will never happen again. 9/11 will never happen again. Enron will never happen again. Got it.] A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe - that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken. [But that's when you were reading Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings while taking Michelle out on swanky dates in Chicago. You couldn't have known then.]

That was obviously not the case on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why. [You're talking now like all of this happened to some president two hundred years ago. Dude, it's happening right now, as we speak.] The American people deserve to know why. [Because you're way in over your head? Because your idea of a vision is to get a bunch of has-been bureaucrats in a room and hatch a "plan"?] The families I met with last week who lost their loved ones in the explosion - these families deserve to know why. And so I have established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place. [Oh Lord, not that. Not that, Obama. A national commission? Like the 9/11 commission or something? I know, the only commission that's ever going to have teeth is the one that's going to decide, after you gladly hand over the Congress to Republicans in November, to cut Medicare and Social Security.] Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. [By which time, we hope, the spill should stop.] I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety, and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue. [We also need to know the facts about the Kennedy assassination--oh, forget it.] And while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.

One place we have already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service. Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility - a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. [You mean, like Ken Salazar, your Senate buddy?] Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations. [You describe all this as though it happened 200 years ago.]

When Ken Salazar became [became? It was an act of God. I had nothing to do with it] my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. [I heard he's some kinda socialist. Also he talks to Ralph Nader a lot. And he's a well-known acolyte of Noam Chomsky.] But it's now clear that the problems there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow. [Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that the rot goes much deeper than we anticipated. The banks are all bankrupt! We will have ten years of high unemployment. Oh wait, that's the speech you never gave.] And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency - Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General. [No mention of that Birnbaum lady Salazar brought in at first?] His charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry's watchdog - not its partner. [How about the oil industry's dominatrix?]

One of the lessons we've learned from this spill is that we need better regulations better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. [Some of us already knew that--but then we weren't Harvard Law School prima donnas.] But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world's oil, but have less than 2% of the world's oil reserves. And that's part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean - because we're running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water. [Okay, pivot coming on, move from crisis to opportunity.]

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. [Dude, it's not an addiction. It's a necessity. Bush started this terminology of addiction. Why do you have to keep using it? You make it sound like all we need is oil therapy.] And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. [Well, now we've got the urgency. Thank God for the BP spill.] Time and again, the path forward has been blocked - not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor. [Like when you were advocating offshore drilling and nuclear power plants and whatever else two months ago? Were you, like, addicted then? Are you coming clean, buddy?]

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. [Get that oil out of the pelicans' eyes so they can see.] Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be here in America. [Damn, everything should be here in America. Move that highway from Shanghai to Beijing over to America, and that nice green bullet train.] Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. [Send? You mean like in a gift? What's the real value of that billion dollars of oil? A hundred billion? It's more like, we're stealing their oil, still.] And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude. [More Biblical language.]

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny. [Yeah, go for it! Seize your destiny, seize BP's balls, kill the terrorists over there so they can't kill us here. Right on, Man.]

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels will take some time, but over the last year and a half, we have already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry. [It's just a transition. There are helium stations and air balloons and solar computers and all that cool stuff just waiting for us to turn on.] As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. [Also, I had to pay someone a hundred bucks to caulk the windows in my eighty-year-old house. I contributed to the clean energy economy.] Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks [smaller Hummers?], and families are making their homes more energy-efficient. Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that will someday lead to entire new industries. [And a cure for cancer, and the elixir of immortality.]

Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. [Especially the poorest among us, because, like, we're stupid to begin with, that's why we're poor.] As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of good, middle-class jobs - but only if we accelerate that transition. [Is this Al Gore in 2003?] Only if we seize the moment. [And seize BP's great big sweaty balls. And twist them with German wire. And set them on fire.] And only if we rally together and act as one nation - workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors. [One nation under God, I pledge allegiance to science and citizenship and helium balloons.]

When I was a candidate for this office, [most of the time you sound like you're still a candidate for this office] I laid out a set of principles that would move our country towards energy independence. Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill - a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America's businesses. [Normally, whatever the House passes you just ignore, right? You like your Senate buddies to have the final word.]

Now, there are costs associated with this transition. [Ah, it's just a transition. Could we have had another Jimmy Carter malaise speech by any chance? Man, those were way better. And I liked the sweaters.] And some believe we can't afford those costs right now. I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy - because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater. [I say we can't afford not to have the best and the brightest come to our country, and to have faith in trade and mobility and comparative advantage--oh wait, that's all out the door, I forgot.]

So I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party - as long they seriously tackle our addiction [just need some therapy] to fossil fuels. [Think of fossil fuels as Bush's whiskey.] Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. [Also efficiency standards in our presidents and congressional leaders.] Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development - and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development. [Get Dr. Phil on this show to cure our addiction, and stop wondering.]

All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. [The way you sprung into action on Day One at 3 a.m. of the crisis. You strung BP's balls in the middle of the night.] The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. [We went to the moon.] You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. [There, you got it! I'm like, in the head of your brilliant speechwriter. Or I should say, speechwriting committee.] And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny - our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we're unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don't yet know precisely how to get there. We know we'll get there. [We don't know what the future looks like, but we have a grand restoration plan. How about just stealing those Chinese bullet trains?]

It is a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now. [Let them eat God--those shrimp were overrated anyway.]

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season [Oh Lord, I anticipate you again, the shrimp!], the region's fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It's called "The Blessing of the Fleet," and today it's a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea - some for weeks at a time. [What about if some Muslim wants to join in?]

The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. [Isn't this sounding too much like Moses again?] It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago - at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced. [Seven years of oil, and seven years of clean energy. And seven years of hurricanes, and seven years of restoration. But four years of you?]

And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, "The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always," a blessing that's granted "...even in the midst of the storm." [Come on, you went to Harvard Law School, you don't really believe this God stuff, do ya?]

The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. [Get ready for more! Like Biden warned.] This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through - what has always seen us through - is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it. [And Steve Jobs.] Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. [And we pray--actually, we don't pray, we just wonder, how we got Bush and you as presidents.] Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America. [And BP.]

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