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Matthew Modine Headshot

Here's What Obama's Next Speech on the Oil Spill Should Say

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Dear Mr. President,

Hey, thanks for giving me this opportunity to write and offer my analysis of your recent address to the nation and to offer my thoughts and counsel for your next speech. Power to the people, right on!

First, you did a fine job of placing accountability on those responsible for the Gulf catastrophes. I believe from this point we should say catastrophes -- what with the unknown effects of the millions of gallons of poisonous dispersants sprayed, the coastline and marshes blackened with crude, the suffering and dead animals and the slick that is on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Not to mention that we are now in hurricane season until the end of November and who knows what those storms will bring. Anyway, you firmly stepped down on the throat of all the knuckleheads at British Petroleum, which by the way, if it were I, I would always refer to as British Petroleum, not BP. "BP" sounds cute and they ain't cute. Especially Tony Hayward. Also, I would frequently remind one and all that British Petroleum is the third biggest international energy and the foruth largest corporation in the world. They have a lot of dough. So do like you said you would and kick 'em where it counts.

Now, lets talk about your next speech. Below is my first draft of what you should say to the nation. I have borrowed ideas and rewritten segments of speeches from previous presidents, which is acceptable, right? Don't all politicians do that? Showbiz does it all the time!

So here you go, Mr. President. You should be firm and deliver this with all the authority you can muster. Remember, you are the leader of our great nation and we want to be led.

My fellow Americans...(This is always a good way to start, lets people know you're one of the them). Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our country's history. The crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is the greatest environmental disaster we have ever faced. The crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we don't act quickly. It's a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it's likely to get progressively worse throughout the rest of this year.

This oil catastrophe has taught us all one important thing: We, as a nation, simply must reduce our demand for energy. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us. We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a safe and decent world for our children and grandchildren. I ask you to deeply understand the seriousness of the challenge we face and that you be willing to make sacrifices. But we must take these steps to protect our environment. Our energy problems are directly related to our environmental problems -- wasteful use of resources. Conservation helps us solve both at once.

Tomorrow, I will present my energy proposals to Congress. Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause inconveniences and force us to compromise our consumer habits. But to further delay will affect our strength and our power as a nation.

Ours is the most wasteful nation on earth. We waste more energy than we import. Our consumption of oil has been increasing every year for the past 50. Our cars are too large and inefficient. Three-quarters of them carry only one person, the driver. We don't have sufficient public transportation. Our homes are insufficiently insulated, and lose about 50 percent of their heat.

Our decision to reduce our consumption of energy will test the character of the American people. This difficult effort will be an opportunity to unite all of our efforts to rebuild this great nation.

This is the undeniable truth we can no longer ignore. We can no longer rely on oil, natural gas, and coal to generate electricity. These are dirty fuels that cause great environmental problems. These dirty fuels will soon enough run out -- no, not in our lifetime, but soon. We will be judged by future generations as to why we destroyed the natural environment and compromised their well-being and safety. We see the destruction that searching for coal has on our nations mountains. We see that burning these unsustainable dirty fuels contributes to global air pollution and acid rain that threatens the worlds oceans, forests, rivers, lakes and streams. The carbon dioxide created from burning these dirty fuels has caused the chemistry of the oceans to change and unless we act decisively, the limitless abundance of the sea within a few decades will degrade into a useless tidal desert.

The uncertainty of oil production and delivery has contributed to the loss of American jobs and made us increasingly vulnerable to supply interruptions. And now we are all witness to the problems of searching for oil off our coasts and far our at sea. We must reduce our demand for oil through conservation, the quickest, cheapest, most practical way out of the energy and environmental challenges we face.

Tonight, we have a choice. If we wait, we will continue to endanger our freedoms as a sovereign nation and we will become increasingly vulnerable to supply interruptions form foreign suppliers.

This is why tomorrow morning I will issue orders to halt manufacturing of all automobiles in the United States. The automobile industry will transform, as it did during the Second World War. Instead of making vehicles for war, it will transform itself into a light rail public transportation industry. This conversion will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The new energy efficient railways will create jobs for thousands of skilled and unskilled laborers, as track will need to be laid to create a working network for commuters. This will begin the rebuilding of America's infrastructure. This will be an investment in our country's future.

During this transportation revolution, we will use buses and carpooling for commuters. A gas-rationing program will be instituted to allow for necessary single-passenger trips. Gas rationing is not new; we have imposed it during extreme times of need and when our country has been at war, which we are now, in the Middle East and in the Gulf.

As of tomorrow, no new construction will begin without first being approved by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design group. This third-party certification program is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings, which gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings' performance. This program will promote a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

As of tomorrow, all unnecessary and frivolous consumption of gasoline will end. All motor sports, automobile and motorcycle racing, air shows, and boat racing will be curtailed. This ban will last until those sports create new energy sources that do not compromise the safety of people and the environment. This ban will inspire a new generation of mechanics and technicians. Perhaps creating even faster and more efficient vehicles that might then become production vehicles for the common commuter. By investing in new, unconventional technologies for creating energy, we make our nation stronger.

We will continue to invest in natural powers that have forever shaped our world: wind and water. Everywhere we look we can find evidence of how wind has shaped our continents. Water is always in motion. Our seas swell and create tides which follow the Moon's orbit of the earth. Because wind and water are constants, we will investigate ways to harness the tides, currents and wind. Mankind has become a force of nature that challenges the geological forces of nature. We will learn to adapt and live harmoniously with these natural forces.

These measures will not be easy, nor will they be popular. But I think most of you realize that a policy that does not ask for changes or sacrifices would not be an effective energy policy. Whether this plan truly makes a difference will be decided not here in Washington, but in every town and every factory, in every home and on every highway and every farm.

I believe this can be a positive challenge. There is something especially American in the kinds of changes we have to make. We have always wanted to give our children and grandchildren a world richer in possibilities than we've had. They are the ones we must provide for now. They are the ones who will suffer most if we don't act.

We can be sure that all the special interest groups in the country will attack the part of this plan that affects them directly. There should be only one test for this program: whether it will help our country.

Other generations of Americans have faced and mastered great challenges. Meeting this challenge will make our own lives even richer. If you will join me so that we can work together with patriotism and courage, we will again prove that our great nation can lead the world into an age of peace, independence and freedom.

That's it. And, as I said Mr. President, this is just a first draft. A lot of these ideas I mention have been understood and acknowledged since the industrial revolution began. Sadly, those that spoke of protecting the environment, and the inventors that came up with new-fangled ideas, were dismissed as dreamers or people that stood in the way of growth, profit and progress. We need a new growth and development now, Mr. President. A type that doesn't resemble cancer.

Good luck and may all the gods bless you.

As always, your fellow American,
Matthew Modine