Gulf Recovery in Editorial Cartoons – Helping the Helpless

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Crossposted at Daily Kos and The Stars Hollow Gazette

John Sherffius

John Sherffius, (Boulder Daily Camera)

NOTE: Please Read This

There are another dozen or so editorial cartoons posted here in the comments section.  Check them out.

As the latest eKos Earthship diary described it

The Gulf Recovery Blogathon is a three-day series about what we can do to assist the citizens, wildlife and eco-systems of the Gulf Coast. Through diaries on a wide range of subjects — by an incredible team of writers — we hope to promote awareness of the continuing crisis caused by the devastating deluge of oil that has overwhelmed the Gulf since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on Tuesday, April 20, nearly four months ago.  

Hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents have seen their livelihoods, if not their generations-old ways of life, threatened or extinguished.  Thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of shorebirds, reptiles, amphibians and marine mammals are dead or suffering. An entire eco-system is in danger.

It would all sound at least marginally hyperbolic, were it not all true.

There is so much to do.  And, as a community, we can accomplish so much. Please join us by reading, recommending, commenting — and by taking action through the links provided.

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Vic Harville, Stephens Media Group (Little Rock, AR), Buy this cartoon

Chris Britt

BP Sweeps Gulf Problems Under the Rug by Chris Britt,, see reader comments in the State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)

Steve Breen

Steve Breen, (San Diego Union Tribune)

Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader

Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers,, see reader comments in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CEO Hell

Tony Hayward has his life back.  That’s more than I can say for the poor ocean creatures covered in oil.  I always like to imagine a cartoon world where what goes around comes around.  In that world, oil executives would be punished for destroying our precious environment and corporate polluters would pay a price for caring more about profits than the health of the planet.  If only such a world existed.

Rogers expressing sentiments that many people on this blog have written about in recent months

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Editorial cartoonists evoke a wide range of emotions — laughter, anger, outrage, remorse, disgust, surprise, irony, fear, and sadness, to name a few.  They capture the absurdity of domestic politics better than thousands of written words by op-ed columnists and editors of the most influential newspapers or talking heads on cable television.

Over the past four months since oil first started spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, I have posted hundreds of editorial cartoons covering various aspects of this environmental tragedy.  You can click on my weekly diaries and you’ll find many heart-breaking cartoons which detail the magnitude of the destruction caused by Big Oil.

This diary seeks to look at the developments in the Gulf over the past four months through recent cartoons.  From the devastation to wildlife; evasive, dishonest, and callous actions by British Petroleum; the disgraceful attitude displayed by BP’s recently-departed CEO Tony Hayward; and the efforts by the Obama Administration to reimburse Gulf residents (to the extent possible) for their losses.

The “recovery” has just started and may take years, if not decades, to be completed.  If at all.

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1. Birds/Wildlife/Ecosystems Lost

Drew Sheneman

Drew Sheneman, (Newark Star-Ledger)

Vic Harville, Stephens Media Group (Little Rock, AR), Buy this cartoon

Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader

Beaches and Contamination by Dave Granlund,, Buy this cartoon

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2. Oil Industry: Attitudes and Lobbying

Clay Bennett

The Heat Wave by Clay Bennett,, see reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Jack Ohman

Jack Ohman, (Portland Oregonian)

Mark Streeter, Savannah Morning News, Buy this cartoon

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3. The Story’s Villain: BP’s Tony Hayward

Chan Lowe

Chan Lowe,

Lowe thinks that British Petroleum bid farewell to its CEO Tony Hayward for obvious reasons.  BP wanted to maintain its financial viability and keep its stock price as high as possible.  Not because he screwed up or that under his stewardship, the company caused lasting environmental damage to the Gulf Coast

As it turns out, all BP really wanted was to resuscitate that anemic stock price by moving its pet clown out of the limelight.  As long as he was visibly in charge, that figure was going to remain unrealistically low.

The company apparently still likes the guy, and they’re going to let him run some Russian oil company that they half-own.  Chances are the Russians don’t even have the laughable regulation enforcement that we do, so our seafaring toff will be free to cut safety corners all he wants…

In the unlikely event the BP brass might want to punish Tony at all for his transgressions (a notion which implies, of course, that oil companies are headed by people with a sense of right and wrong) they might require him to spend at least ninety-five percent of his time circling his Russian wells in his new icebreaking yacht.

At minimum, that would offer cold comfort to a few out-of-work Gulf fishermen.

Hayward’s Life by Mike Keefe, Denver Post, Buy this cartoon

Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley, (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Tony Hayward and BP Pension by Dave Granlund,, Buy this cartoon

Tony Hayward’s Exit by Martin Sutovec, Freelance Cartoonist (Slovakia), Buy this cartoon

J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register, Buy this cartoon

Crowe says farewell to Hayward and has some choice words for the departing oil executive

Tony “The Jerk” Hayward

Without you, T-Hay, none of this would have been possible, possibly.  Without your repeated verbal commitments to safety while skimping on the gravy and cutting corners, without your numerous out-of-touch gaffes that had us Gulf Coast folks fuming while your oil spill was pluming, none of this drama would have been quite the same…

Eleven men lost their lives in the initial oil rig explosion.  Countless birds and wildlife have been oiled, distressed, and killed.  Fishing, tourism and the small business economy all along the Gulf Coast has been devastated.  Some businesses were handed a death sentence.

We will miss you, Mr. Hayward, in that weird, hateful way…

You’ve made a name for yourself, Tony Hayward.  And now you have your life back. Wish we could say the same.  Jerk.

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4. What Happened to Those Millions of Gallons of Spilt Oil?

Ed Stein

Ed Stein, (formerly of the Rocky Mountain News), see reader comments on Stein’s blog

Stein is skeptical of reports that most of the oil spilt into the Gulf of Mexico has vanished into thin air

Going, Going, Gone

The government announced last week that three-quarters of the oil spewed from BP’s Deepwater Horizon leak had already vanished.  Great news, right?  Maybe the damage wouldn’t be so bad, after all.  Except that numerous experts from outside the administration, which underplayed the severity of the leak from the beginning, believe that these optimistic numbers woefully underestimate the amount of oil still lurking beneath the surface.  

Massive amounts of chemical dispersants created huge columns of undersea oil, suspended in tiny droplets, which still may be wreaking havoc on the undersea ecology, the full extent of which may not be known for decades.  Fish oil could take on a whole new meaning in the coming years.

Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer, Buy this cartoon

J..D. Crowe, see reader comments in the Mobile Register, Buy this cartoon

Since BP capped the wild well a couple weeks ago, a miracle has happened. The oil has disappeared!

After 100 days, BP says boats and cleanup crews are finding less and less surface sheen to skim up and collect. It’s gone.

One of two things has transpired:

1. With the resignation of Tony Hayward, BP’s curse on the Gulf has been lifted and the mess has magically disappeared.

2. All the crude that has been gushing and mixing with dispersants and ocean water for 3 months is still lurking under the surface. Like a monster. Like thousands of oily gobs of monsters. Dangerous sharks of toxic crude are lurking beneath the surface of the Gulf, ready to attack.

Crowe has some ideas as to what happened to all the oil

Chan Lowe, (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Lowe knows the American character well.  If they can’t see something on their television sets, they don’t think a problem exists.  It is as simple as that.  In other words, out of sight, out of mind!

The Oil Slick’s Lasting Damage

Ours is a nation that runs on visuals. To put it more bluntly, if we don’t see it on TV, it doesn’t exist.

Those of us old enough and not too high at the time to remember the 1960s recall that what made the Vietnam war so immediate was that Uncle Walter was delivering footage of dying American boys right to our living rooms…

It’s the same with the oil slick.  BP and the Obama Administration are counting on the fact that TV cameras won’t show the underwater plumes that will plague us for years, or the consequent destruction of the aquatic food chain, because those things aren’t readily visible the way oil-covered waterfowl are.

Out of sight, out of mind.

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5. Gulf Coast Businesses: What Hath BP Wrought?

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Dana Summers

Dana Summers, (Orlando Sentinel)

Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley, (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Drew Sheneman

Drew Sheneman, (Newark Star-Ledger)

Oil Dispersant by Mike Keefe, Denver Post, Buy this cartoon

Gulf Scream ll by J.D. Crowe, see reader comments in the Mobile Register, Buy this cartoon

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6. Will the Lives of Gulf Coast Residents Ever Be the Same?

BP Draggin by J.D. Crowe, see reader comments in the Mobile Register, Buy this cartoon

Crowe’s a bit indignant at the slow pace with which BP’s processing legitimate claims for the tens of thousands of people and businesses affected by this catastrophe

The Urgency of Now is here.  Gulf Coast businesses need their claims paid NOW, BP. Quit your head-noddin’, foot-draggin’ PR nonsense and pay the folks who are hurting the most.  Pay them NOW.

Our Gulf Coast community businesses are in danger of dying on the vine.

We are a family down here.  Generations of families harvest their livings from the Gulf.  We are not a bunch of chain stores and restaurants, we are a collection of family-owned businesses.  If they fail here, now, they fail.  We fail.  Period.

Chip Bok

Chip Bok, (

Walt Handelsman

Walt Handelsman, (Newsday)

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7. What’s Our Responsibility?

Rob Rogers, (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Rogers sends a message to Washington, D.C: get with the program and enact meaningful energy legislation


Well, the leak has been plugged and BP says the cleanup is pretty much over.  When the oil slicks clear and the media goes home, there will still be an unsightly rotten mess on the beach.  I’m talking about our energy policy.  Washington needs to wake up and smell the tar balls.  Pass an energy bill!

Steve Breen

Steve Breen, (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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8. Will the Gulf Rise Again?

Gulf is Resilient by J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register

Crowe insists that people of the Gulf Coast are resilient and will, with your help, recover from this disaster

If you’re looking for positives in this unprecedented oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, look into the water itself.

Mother Nature will lick her wounds, and the Gulf in particular has shown it can be a mighty resilient force.

I count on the Gulf to suffer through this abuse and rise to its awesome glory once again.

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(Tayo Fatunla, Freelance Cartoonist for Cagle Cartoons (West Africa), Buy this cartoon)

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Skip to comment form

  1. … nothing to worry about, folks.

    Good News for the Coast by Bruce Plante, see reader comments

    in Tulsa World, Buy this cartoon

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    Tips and the like here.  Thanks.  

  2. Jack Ohman, (Portland Oregonian)

  3. MIke Thompson

    Mike Thompson,, see reader comments in the Detroit Free Press

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    Thompson added this on his blog

    As a change of pace, British Petroleum has decided to replace CEO Tony Hayward with an American CEO. Hayward is so unlike an American CEO. For starters, The Sunday Times of London estimated that he’s walking away with a severance package totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 million. No self-respecting American CEO would walk away with such a paltry sum. In fact, Hayward’s bugling and incompetence wouldn’t earn an American CEO a pink slip, it would earn an American CEO a handsome bonus.

    Hayward reportedly will be blessing some remote BP office in Russia with his skills and leadership. Russia is the country that was behind the environmental calamity at Chernobyl in the Ukraine and is also the land of egomaniacal profit obsessed financial oligarchs who drove hordes of people into poverty and despair.

    In other words, Tony should feel right at home.

    • Robyn on August 13, 2010 at 22:21

    …let the waves wash my mind…

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