At the height of the BP oil disaster this summer, Tony Hayward, the oil giant’s former CEO, and Louisiana’s GOP Governor Bobby Jindal were virtual household names. Hayward would garner headline coverage typically for saying something that provoked outrage, and Jindal got for his relentless criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the spill. Welcome back, fellas!
Earlier this week, Hayward conceded in an interview with the BBC that BP’s handling of the spill was “inadequate.” But yesterday, in a speech to students at Cambridge University, Hayward did a seeming about face, blaming “alarmist media reporting” for creating a mood of hysteria around the spill.
“BP bashing became all the rage,” he said, echoing a charge made recently by current CEO Bob Dudley. “It all became rather personal.” He also added, contrary to countless scientific reports, that “all of the oil is now gone.”
Jindal, for his part, is blasting the Obama administration in his new book, “Leadership and Crisis.” The Louisiana governor — who has lately been battling with environmental scientists over his plan to erect labor-intensive and dubiously useful sand berms along the Gulf coast to prevent oil from washing ashore — recounts how president had chastised him early on in the sipll crisis for writing a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting food stamps for spill victims.
“He was upset,” Jindal writes. “There was not a word about the oil spill. He was concerned about looking bad.” And Jindal–like most Gulf political leaders an ardent foe of the White House moratorium on deepwater drilling–charges that the administration officials who made that call were oblivious to outside complaints and criticism.”They boldly went about making major decisions without really understanding the consequences of what they were doing,” the governor writes.
And like Hayward, Jindal has few kind words for the press. The governor, who has lately been subject of some speculation as a potential candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination also burnishes his image as a values-minded conservative at odds with a secular liberal media in the book. He recalls, for instance, having lunch with a “well-known reporter” from the Washington Post who didn’t appear to recognize what he was doing when he bowed his head to say grace.
“She immediately asked me if everything was okay,” he writes. “She was startled and fascinated by what I had done.”