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Where's Dick Cheney on the BP Oil Gusher?

So where's Dick Cheney? Writing for Newsweek, Ravi Somaiya observes that in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the former vice president has remained "notably silent." What's notable, Somaiya points out, is that, "When the Obama administration, or the media, or just about anybody contradicts Dick Cheney's views on national security, he is far from shy about responding." So as a hawk for big oil, one might expect Cheney to defend his pro-petro views in the face of withering (and near-universal) opprobrium from both public and president.

For eight years, of course, Cheney played dual roles as vice president of the United States and as unofficial at-large congressman for the petroleum industry. The former vice president's murky ties to Halliburton, the Houston oil services company he once ran, are well documented, and he continues to face ridicule for having allowed executives from oil companies to dictate American energy policy during the George W. Bush presidency.

At Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard looks extensively into the potential cause-and-effect relationship between Cheney's infamous 2001 energy task force and the gulf catastrophe. "The task force's final report," Sheppard writes, "...presented a rosy picture of the offshore drilling industry. Newer oil and gas drilling methods, it said, ‘practically eliminate spills from offshore platforms' and ‘enhance worker safety, lower risk of blowouts, and provide better protection of groundwater resources.'"

Symbolic of Cheney's connection -- past, present, and future -- to Big Oil is BP's hiring of Anne Womack-Kolton as its chief of U.S. media relations. Womack-Kolton served as Cheney's press secretary during the 2004 campaign and later worked for President Bush's Department of Energy. While this small bit of employment news is far too circumstantial to gin up serious outrage, it nonetheless puts a nice bow around the questionable coziness between government and industry that Bush and Cheney encouraged during their time in the White House.

Perhaps the blatancy of this connection is contributing to the veep's reticence. Whatever the reason, Cheney seems content to let his daughter, Liz Cheney, defend Big Oil and the family legacy, as she did -- ineffectively -- on ABC's "This Week" earlier this month. If you have a better defense to offer, Mr. Cheney, now might be the time.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel is an American editor and publisher. She is the editor, publisher, and part-owner of the magazine The Nation. She has been the magazine's editor since 1995.


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