Jeff Vrabel: Oil spills, urine and super fish

Jeff Vrabel

When my brother was very young, he would frequently pee directly into a garbage can in our basement playroom rather than risk the long and perilous journey to the bathroom, which was all the way upstairs, like nine steps or something (in his defense, it's not like you could pause the E.T. game on the Atari).

My parents, being sharp people (though aided by an anonymous tipster who may or may not have been trying to score more “Pitfall” time), would usually address the issue by asking Dave directly what he knew about the objectionable fragrance radiating from the garbage can. And every single time he was subjected to these intense investigations, each time he gazed into the face of parental wrath and irrefutable and dribbling evidence, he would provide the same singular, unvarying response: "No, Mom," and then he'd conclude his presentation by casting suspicion upon the dog.

The massive oil spill currently begloppening (or threatening to begloppen) up the entire Gulf Coast, at least to my untrained eyes, seemed at first awful but not apocalyptic, mostly because that is what I was being told by some combination of BP, which owned the exploded rig, and the federal government, each of whom spent the first few days post-disaster gradually poking around online for each other's phone numbers. The government passed the first days of the mess — which began with the explosion of a massive BP rig — by largely deferring to BP, asking for updates from BP, and deciding that they pretty much were OK with whatever BP said, which, surprisingly, was that BP had everything under control. It is as if my parents went upstairs, poured some coffee, looked at each other and sighed, "Maybe there's something to this dog thing." (Note: there wasn't, as to successfully hit the garbage can Cutty would've had to basically get out a ladder, travel three steps up and then whizz diagonally). 

Now, I'm not arguing for increased federal oversight of my brother's childhood urinary decisions, but actually, maybe I am. Because for days BP has reminded everyone that the exploded rig was actually owned by Transocean, which also owns the absolutely factual "blowout preventer," the object that broke in the first place. (If you've ever been kicking around investing in blowout preventer preventers, now is probably the time.) But otherwise they're on the case, according to what will likely go down as the best quote of the year, from Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry of the Coast Guard to the New York Times: "BP, from Day 1, has attempted to be very responsive and be a very responsible spiller.” That is AWESOME; it's like saying Dave intended, from the moment he ventured into the corner, to at least try to keep most of his pee in the can.

In any event, it is obviously a monstrous mess for the Gulf Coast, which was recently named one of America's Best New Places To Raise A Family For The Four Or Five Years Until Something Extremely Terrible Happens That Everyone Will Pretend Not To Have Had The Remotest Idea About. (On the plus side, it's not like Louisiana has any coastal wetlands left to ruin.) And it's apparently not close to over. “To be frank, the offer of help from all quarters is welcome,” said BP spokesman David Nicholas, or in layman's terms, OH GOD WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE.

So apparently letting a massive oil company self-regulate its own environmental disaster might not be the way to go, OK, lesson learned. We're all new here. But someone is going to have to scrub up this slickery schmutz, so while vast groups of disproportionately powerful adults simultaneously spot-forget all of their jobs and responsibilities, I'm announcing my initiative to gather a group of scientists, marine specialists, isolated island doctors, aspiring god-players, horror villains and Charlie Crist, to have them invent and breed a new brand of synthetic oil-eating fish. (Oh, stop it: If we can genetically engineer corn to be nine times its normal Earth size, if we can flood cows with enough McGwire Juice to make the delicious meatness virtually burst forth out of their skin, we can magic up one stupid fish.)

Oh, sure, you're saying, because you hate the idea of unregulated evil geniuses indiscriminately engineering mutant nightmare-creatures and then impulsively dumping that untested wildlife into a major and troubled ecosystem, hippie, what will control the oil-eating fish? Um, hello, how about a little thing called Oil-Eating Fish-Eating Dolphins. It's called American ingenuity, people, it's what makes this country great. 

Because if we've learned anything in the past week, it's that goodness and human decency will, against all odds, always win out over greed and very large sums of money, and by "if we've learned anything" I mean "we will all perish from eating super-slippery fish or as a direct result of financial ruin from a overcaffeinated twerp named Fab." Meanwhile, advisers to President Obama have noted that, bowing to intense pressure from the multinational fishery lobby Big Shrimp (the most ironic lobby ever), they'll temporarily suspend all future offshore drilling decisions, which kind of makes sense, because it's not like my parents spent a lot of time installing new garbage cans in the basement. 

Jeff Vrabel rocks at "Pitfall." He can be reached at http://jeffvrabel.com or http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel.