After a week away, here’s my advice: in news terms, you can afford to take a vacation. When I came back last Sunday, New Orleans was bracing for tough times (again). BP, a drill-baby-drill oil company that made $6.1 billion in the first quarter of this year and lobbied against “new, stricter safety rules” for offshore drilling, had experienced an offshore disaster for which ordinary Americans are going to pay through the nose (again). News photographers were gearing up for the usual shots of oil-covered wildlife (again). A White House — admittedly Democratic, not Republican — had deferred to an energy company’s needs, accepted its PR and lies, and then moved too slowly when disaster struck (again).
Okay, it may not be an exact repeat. Think of it instead as history on cocaine. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, already the size of the state of Delaware, may end up larger than the disastrous Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, and could prove more devastating than Hurricane Katrina. Anyway, take my word for it, returning to our world from a few days offline and cell phone-less, I experienced an unsettling déjà-vu-all-over-again feeling. What had happened was startling and horrifying — but also eerily expectable, if not predictable.