Snake oil

Feb 27, 2008

At lunch on Ninth Street today — Vietnamese soup at Banh’s — I looked out to see a truck pull up and park across the street. The back of the truck was an enclosed room pimped out as a beach scene to advertise a campaign by the oil giant BP to get people to buy more gas with chances to win a tropical vacation. As I sipped my soup, I watched as a young woman and young man inside the truck stripped down to bathing suits and frolicked as if they were at the ocean.

“What, BP needs to remind people to buy gas?” my friend, Mark Schreiner, wondered, understanding right away that the high price of gas might be getting to Americans, finally.

As it happens, Exxon Mobil was before the U.S. Supreme Court today to argue that punitive charges of $2.5 billion — just three weeks of Exxon’s current net profits — is way, way too much a penalty for its negligence in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. (Listen to this report by NPR’s Nina Totenberg.)

Anton Zuiker

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