05/14/2010 05:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

President, Governor and Mayor Speak Out, and NYT Weighs In on That Smell

The New York Times has weighed in on smells that may or may not be wafting across New Orleans, depending on who you ask. The article's lead makes you wonder whether the reporter is aware that there is, indeed, an SDT lemon scented spray.

"At almost 300 years old, somewhat moldy from the remnants of Hurricane Katrina and surrounded by muddy water and swamps, this city is not exactly known for being lemony fresh. But from the French Quarter to New Orleans East, people here have been complaining about a tinge to the air that is unsettling even by local standards," Susan Saulny writes in her article, "Odd Smells in New Orleans Conjure Up Thoughts of the Gulf."

Our leaders are not weighing in on the smell, but on the leak. Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke from Fort Pike and General Russel Honore appeared on CNN calling for immediate government intervention. President Barack Obama said of BP, Transocean and Halliburton, "I will not tolerate more finger-pointing or irresponsibility." Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen held a press conference to describe the top hat containment procedure that was going to be attempted, since no one had told him that BP is going with the narrow tube approach instead.

All the while, the amount of oil leaking is still unclear -- it could be millions of gallons worse than original estimates with no end in sight. Some are cracking under the pressure. A C-SPAN caller this morning stated that he suspects sabotage to the Deepwater Horizon rig. When asked by the show's host who he thought would go 5,000 feet under the ocean to sabotage an oil rig, the man answered: "Democrats."

Responses to the leak, both public and private, are beginning to feel like a Kurt Vonnegut novel, except that there's nothing funny about it.

The late Vonnegut once wrote, "Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on."

Back to that smell, the New York Times reports that more than 800 air samples are being tested daily by state, federal and oil company contracted scientists, and so far the tests conclude that the Gulf air is untainted.

In this slow motion disaster, we've reached a state of confusion in which it feels as if Gulf residents are being asked by the experts: "Who are you going to believe, us or your lying noses?"

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