There is no best case scenario in this current BP Gulf oil spill, and the worst case scenario is unthinkable. Within 18-24 months, BP as the current operating company, will no longer exist, senior leadership will be gone, the assets sold, and the former British Petroleum, will be a black tar ball on America's energy program. Further, if the current administration doesn't immediately and forcefully take complete charge of the entire operation, this environmental nightmare will forever become President Obama's sword of Damocles. This is no longer, "BP's mess," it is ours.
I've been asked by the media whether BP can recover from this reputational disaster, and I've watched fellow crisis and reputational experts bite that hook, talking on about what they believe BP should do to repair their brand. At this point, anyone who believes this is a recoverable crisis event for BP clearly doesn't grasp the environmental, business, political, and economic implications of this ongoing debacle.
Imagine watching in extra slow motion, two jumbo jets from the same company, directly over a capacity filled sports stadium, about to crash head-on into each other, and as the horror slowly unfolds, just prior to impact, as you sit stunned and riveted to the images, a reporter asks: "Do you think this crash is going to hurt the airline's reputation, and what can they do about it?"
As each day progresses, and more oil pours out into the Gulf, this unprecedented event continues escalating and expanding into a plume of dangerous proportions. No one besides BP's employees and shareholders should care about their future, because after this event is over, BP is a dead man walking.
BP's tough talking CEO, Tony Hayward, and his leadership need to stop trying to save their company's reputation and start focusing on saving the wildlife, land, and livelihoods of the millions of people and businesses affected from the uninterrupted poison flowing into the now polluted Gulf of Mexico.
Just as a sea captain has to finally admit he and his ship are sinking, it is also required that before he perishes, he save as many lives as possible, and does what is honorable and true.
Barack Obama needs to immediately twist BP's arm until they cry, "Uncle!," and make them give up trying to control this mess, and allow leading environmentalists, entrepreneurs, clean technology experts, and even possibly competitors, into the circle of recovery and repair. We are way past finger pointing, and it's time BP told us the truth, all the facts, and what, as horrific as it may be, are their predictions for the potential future implications of this catastrophe.
In any crisis, and especially now with so much at stake, BP would best be served recognizing that truth is always the ultimate spin.