07/09/2010 01:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Thank You So Very, Very Much, British Petrol

Please sit down. Take a deep breath. I am going to ask you to recall something very traumatic and painful, to take a moment and remember exactly how things were not all that long ago, how pathetic and lost it all seemed, for nearly a decade, one of the worst intervals in our nation's history, a period most of us have worked extremely hard via wine, drugs, scream therapy, sex and lots of deep and prayerful book-learnin' to block out, forget, heal.

Let us now, just for a paragraph or three, recall the sad and soiled era of one George W. Bush, AKA the Dark Times, the Era of Lost Souls, when all felt calamitous and miserable and not a single day went by without some nefarious scandal, abuse, global humiliation, blunder, illegal war or Creationist kiddiebabble to molest your heart, scar your soul and humiliate your finer sensibilities.

Do you remember? I know, I'm very sorry to make you do it. But it just might save us all.

See, there are those who tentatively argue -- I've done so myself, more or less, in this very space -- that we actually owe Dubya a huge dose of (reluctant, teeth-gritted, soul-clenched) gratitude.

There are those who say that, had it not been for The Worst President of the Modern Era, his epic blunderstorm of war, environmental abuse and a deep suckling love for/from the deeply disturbed fundamentalist right, well, the potent groundswell for change and upheaval would not have occurred, the GOP might not have collapsed so violently under the weight of its own repellent misprision, and Obama might never have succeeded as well as he did.

Do you agree with this estimation? I'm a bit mixed on it overall -- I think Obama was fairly spectacular in his own right, and I'm generally optimistic enough to say that we as a species don't always require violent trauma or severe loss to finally see the light. But still, there's no doubt that the stunning amount of global disgust Bush fomented caused a hell of a slingshot effect.

For better or worse, sometimes it's the only way change can arrive. It's easy to argue that most humans -- particularly American humans -- do not really evolve in any substantive way unless forced, unless the consequences of inaction become so dire, pathetic or abusive that we are left with no choice. So lazy and over-pampered have we become, so comfortable and fat and widely drugged, that unless something is truly at stake -- usually money, perhaps health, occasionally self-respect -- we simply shall not budge until the walls are, quite literally, on fire.

So we come to the great BP spill of 2010, the most gruesomely epic man-made disaster of our age. How do we parse? Through what lens do we observe? Using the Dark Days as a model, I'm here to suggest the possibility that we look at BP, its horrible disaster, its slimy executives, its Republican apologists, its roots in pure evil -- and actually, by short extension, its direct ties to the Bush Administration itself -- and set our sour fatalism aside for a moment, and instead offer up a perverse sort of gratitude....

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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the SF Chronicle and SFGate. Get it at or Amazon. He recently wrote about the dark, magnificent horror of the BP spill, the KFC Double Down, and what it's like being part of the evil liberal conspiracy. His website is Join him on Facebook;, or email him. Not to mention...