On Fox News yesterday, Shepard Smith unloaded on BP CEO Tony Heyward who called the Gulf Oil spill a small leak. In a commentary Smith said to Heyward, “Our water is now polluted, our coast is now soiled…many of our people are out of a job, and 11 hard working men are dead from the explosion on the rig that carried your company’s name….at least act like you care.”
Here is the video:
Smith pointed out that Tony Heyward has refused to appear on his show, and that the BP CEO has called the leak a small spill, and called the lawsuits against BP frivolous. Smith said, “Mr. Heyward, your company is responsible for what may become the worst ecological disaster in American history, and you speak of it in these terms? Billions upon billions of dollars in damage already and you cast us aside as litigious, and act as if what’s happening in the Gulf is no big deal, relatively speaking. Mr. Heyward, that Gulf is a source of life for millions upon millions of people and plants and other creatures on this earth. Jobs are lost. Beaches and birds are tarred. Fisheries are closed. Tourists are canceling. Economies are threatened, and people from Florida to Texas are concerned for their very livelihoods, and you speak of comparative volume.”
He continued, “Mr. Heyward, British Petroleum has caused the proud people of the Gulf region great pain. If you think you statements on this subject are helping your company’s cause, you are wrong, and if you think the people of the gulf region and the rest of America will take lying down without a fight a poorly handled aftermath of what your company has done to our gulf and our people, you are horribly mistaken. Our water is now polluted. Our coast is now soiled. Our fish and our turtles and our shrimp and our oysters are now harmed. Many of our people are now out of a job, and 11 hard working men are dead from the explosion on the rig that carried your company’s name. Remember that, Mr. Heyward? We do. On your watch, these are extremely difficult times for us litigious Americans. At least act like you care.”
It should be noted that Shep is from Mississippi, so he feels passionately about part his home region being destroyed by corporate greed and possibly criminal neglect. The problem is that BP could care less. This spill and the clean up, along with the 11 wrongful death lawsuits that they will likely settle out of court, is the cost of doing business. Whatever they will pay for the cleanup is nothing compared to their profits.
This is why we not only need to up the liability damages cap, but I think Congress should consider removing it. Yes, I can hear the howls about frivolous lawsuits already, but the adjective frivolous is a very subjective term. If I lost my livelihood due to corporate malfeasance, I would not think that my lawsuit was frivolous. I don’t have much hope for regulating a solution because corporate America has become entwined with the political process through campaign contributions. Remember that today’s regulations will be tomorrow’s lobbying campaign during an election year.
The only thing that corporate America understands is the bottom line. This is where they must be made to hurt. The United States needs to make it cost prohibitive for corporate giants to engage in behavior like BP’s. They to make safety a smart business move, because only then will these criminals learn. Right now, their crime pays, so we must make sure that in the future, crime does not pay.