Douchebag Decree: BP Oil Execs Are Super Slimy

This week's douchebag decree goes out to all of the douchebags who are responsible for the BP oil spill. Because there are so many filthy rich BP oil execs who have repeatedly displayed their lack of concern about how the spill is affecting the environment and its inhabitants, I've decided to honor a couple of them with this week's decree.

Image of Tony Hayward from NYDailyNews

Let's start with Tony Hayward, the Chief Executive of BP. A quick search finds all kind of douchey comments from Hayward, but I'll focus on a few gems. Let's go back to July of 2009 and take a look at a speech that Hayward gave at Stanford University Graduate School of Business:

According to Hayward, saving the world doesn't matter -- money does: "We had too many people that were working to save the world. We sort of lost track of the fact that our primary purpose in life is to create value for our shareholders." Those two sentences seem to sum up everything that's wrong with the world, but maybe that's just me.

Fast forward to the aftermath of the oil spill, and Hayward has been making a nonstop fool out of himself. His gross understatements about the effects of the oil spill have been appalling. I'm sure you remember him telling The Guardian: "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume." Uh, seriously? And then he was reported saying, "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. I'd like my life back." This comment came across as nothing short of insensitive, seeing as how 11 men lost their lives in the oil spill, and the destruction to the environment doesn't seem to have an end in sight. Sure, Hayward apologized for the spill, but it took him almost two months, which is also pretty douchey in my book.

Image of Carl-Henric Svanberg from

Next up on our list of BP Douchebags is BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who really did it for himself when he announced yesterday that, like Obama, he also cares about "the small people":

Now, I realize that Svanberg is Swedish and may not have realized that the word "small" is one that is synonymous with "insignificant". But his comments did perpetuate the attitude that BP executives have continuously displayed over the past two months. And regardless of what he might claim that he meant to say, upon hearing his super douche remarks, I couldn't help but wonder, who exactly are these "small people" he speaks of caring about?

Perhaps he's referring to the jobless fishermen who volunteered to help with cleaning up the oil? Nope, BP doesn't seem to care about these men, who are primarily from communities of color. RaceWire exposed BP for the exploitative contracts they made volunteers sign:

BP's volunteer agreement also forbade workers from talking about the clean-up efforts without first getting approval from the company and demanded 30 days notice before anyone tried to bring legal action against the company. BP also tried to force volunteers to agree that if people were injured or boats or other equipment got damaged, the volunteers' own insurance, and not BP, would be responsible for covering all damages.

Maybe the "small people" he says that he cares about are the women who now have to worry about the effects this spill might have on their reproductive systems? If these are the "small people" he was referring to, BP's actions don't seem to be making that very clear. truthout exposes BP for their lack of response to health concerns:

Although the National Institutes of Health has stated clearly that the oil spill poses a potential threat to pregnant women and young children, very little attention has been given to this warning and there is no reference to it on the Deepwater Horizon Response web site.

While it seems very plausible that the ingredients in oil might pose a particular threat to children and women, BP isn't talking about it. They have yet to fully disclose all of the ingredients in the oil. And of course, research that is needed to find out if the oil will be especially harmful to pregnant women is not being funded. Sorry, Svanberg, but I'm not buying your "small people" talk.

With every great man-made catastrophe, communities of color and women bear the brunt. This spill has been yet another example, and we have the BP Douchebags to thank for it.

by Ashley McAllister
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8 Comments Have Been Posted

The Corporate Management Mentality

It isn't just B.P. plc and Halliburton and Transoceon (the three companies involved) that have this kind of problem. There are a lot of chagrinned people at B.P.. They have been presenting an environmentally conscious attitude in their advertising for years. They, the people on the gulf coast, the people of Britain (British Petrolem) whose economy was helped by B.P., and all the shareholders (many of whome are retirees on fixed income or are people having it in their mutual funds or 401-k will all be hurt. Like i said, the problems with B.P.s management and board of directors, all of whom paid themselves huge amounts in compensation, are typical in the corporate world. Big corporations tend to hire people who are good at business, greed and profits, but they don't put enough emphasis on having people in the management and directorships who know the underlying nuts and bolts of the businesses well. It was evident that B.P.'s CEO simply didn't know the technical end of things. It seems like there's a cabal of super rich people who sit on each others boards of directors and direct multiple companies. At this point the lawyers are probablyy weighing in as well. It has definitely gotten political and the retroactive liabilities and lawsuits coming down the pipe (pun not intended) are going to be huge. It really is a shame.

Carl-Henric Svanberg

Small people ? Who this guy think he is ?! Very bad statement, and worst, comparing itself with the president of USA...

I hope this goes beyond just

I hope this goes beyond just punishing the terrible BP execs. Yes, they should all face some serious punishment, but I hope this will bring about the end of off shore drilling all together (I know I'm thinking ideally here). I just hope this is not another case where we call out the BP execs and then that is that, nothing more happens and business carries on as usuall for other companies. We need some serious corporate responsibility here.

Truthout article

The truthout article you linked to definitely raises a lot of concerns about the long term effects that environmental disasters have on reproduction and public health in general. The fact that research is not being done and that BP has the right not to tell anyone what chemicals are in the oil dispersant is indicative of a culture where public health (especially women's health) is secondary to the rights of corporations to do basically whatever they want.

And while I agree with some of the above commenters that it is not just the fault of BP but an institutionalized culture of corporate greed, we still ought to hold individuals accountable. Corporate culture or not, Tony Hayward is an individual with a tremendous amount of control over the effect his company has on the world. What he says matters. I believe the BP executives (and all others responsible -- especially the regulators whose lack of oversight led to the whole catastrophe in the first place) should receive criminal charges.

However, something needs to be done institutionally to change the way we prepare for and react to petroleum related disasters. Because it's going to happen again. This is the price we all pay for a cheap energy source (I'm getting a little on my soapbox, sorry!). Otherwise, there will be more douchebags doing and saying douchey things to try and talk their way out of being responsible for ruining the world.

In conclusion, ride your bikes!

Yeah, and Hayward's even at

Yeah, and Hayward's even at a yacht race this weekend. I loved the bitter tone of the guy on NPR announcing the fact.

Of course he went to a yacht

Of course he went to a yacht race. Blech. I do love those NPR voices.

Umm ...

Really? I already knew that about BP Executives. They're capitalists. Capitalists of an oil company. I was not surprised by the oil spill, at all. And I don't think an oil spill needed to happen in order for me to form an opinion that anyone who is an executive is a douche. They are perpetuating capitalism, no matter what company they run (even womyn/women).

A few feminist friends and I talked about how we don't want more womyn/women on corporate boards because they are just participating in the culture that is capitalism, white supremacy, and male-dominated. We want a whole new world for everyone.

I already knew the CEO of BP didn't give a shit. If he did, he probably wouldn't be CEO of BP.

I think the only cartel more

I think the only cartel more influential than Big Oil is Wall Street. I strongly suspect oil fiasco was precipitated or allowed to worsen in order to force the public agenda toward far costlier alternative energies. Never one to waste a good crisis, the White House can now expect the American public to clamor for salvation from the evils of petroleum. But as Obama himself has said, a move toward a green economy would cause energy rates to "necessarily skyrocket". That's where Wall Street comes in-- they will make a killing. They probably already made a tidy sum short-selling BP, and are now perfectly positioned to ride the wave of green energy. If you'd like to know how that will work out, look to Spain, which is losing 2.5 'regular' jobs for every green job created. So although Obama will continue to talk tough, he still knows which side his bread is buttered. He will continue to pursue whichever agenda is most profitable for Wall Street and the bankers.

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