In a sudden turn around of political fortunes, an oil slick is about to blow Obama's ecological political capital to a trillion pieces, not three weeks after he approved more oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd.
"It's an ecological disaster like we've never seen," said Pam Updike, 77, a self-proclaimed steward of the Gulf Coast who has worked tirelessly for 45 years to protect the fragile ecosystem, but has been harassed, laughed at and even shot at for her environmental stance. "Oil is only good if it stays underground where God put it. After that it can create all kinds of mischief. It's killing our planet. This is going to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a sludge pit. I've been saying this was going to happen for years, but according to the oil companies, I'm just an old woman and I don't know nothing."
BP PLC, the operator of the rig, is already positioning itself for the massive lawsuit sure to follow, by blaming one of the guys who died in the original accident, when the rig exploded, for "not turning a valve correctly." Of course, all the witnesses are dead and the rig is at the bottom of the Gulf, so that defense strategy should be a cakewalk.
Meanwhile, President Obama has not waded into the issue just yet. But in two or three days, when 250,000 gallons of oil a day start washing up just south of New Orleans, things should get very interesting. Here's what to expect: A tawdry PR move that involves Obama rolling up his sleeves and scrubbing oil off a bird or a turtle while the cameras roll. Then, everyone leaving the mess for Pam Updike to clean up.