Right-wing darling Sarah Palin accused US President Barack Obama on Sunday of leading a lax response to the Gulf of Mexico spill because he is too close to the big oil companies.
The former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor, who champions off-shore drilling, criticized the media for not drawing the link between Obama and big oil and said if this spill had happened under former Republican president George W. Bush the scrutiny would have been far tougher.
"I don't know why the question isn't asked by the mainstream media and by others if there's any connection with the contributions made to president Obama and his administration and the support by the oil companies to the administration," she told Fox News Sunday.
More than 3.5 million dollars has been given to candidates by BP over the last 20 years, with the largest single donation, 77,051 dollars, going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Palin suggested this close relationship explained why Obama was, "taking so doggone long to get in there, to dive in there, and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico."
The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers, and sank two days later. Ever since, hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil, perhaps millions, have been spewing each day into the sea.
The resulting slick, now the size of a small country, threatens to leave Louisiana's fishing and coastal tourism industries in tatters, ruin pristine nature reserves, and cause decades of harm to the ecology of fragile marshes that are a haven for rare wildlife and migratory birds.
The Obama administration has been forced to defend its response to the disaster as some Republicans have sought to portray it as their Katrina, an allusion to president Bush's mishandling of the response to the 2005 hurricane that devastated Louisiana.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs mocked Palin's suggestions that Obama was somehow in bed with big oil because of 2008 presidential campaign contributions.
"Sarah Palin was involved in that election, but I don't think, apparently, was paying a whole lot of attention," Gibbs said.
"I'm almost sure that the oil companies don't consider the Obama administration a huge ally. We proposed a windfall profits tax when they jacked their oil prices up to charge for gasoline.
"My suggestion to Sarah Palin would be to get slightly more informed as to what's going on in and around oil drilling in this country."
However, Gibbs did make it clear that reforms must be carried out to make sure that the incestuous relationship between oil firms and government regulators highlighted by the current disaster ended once and for all.
"BP will pay for every bit of this," he said. "We have to figure out and make sure that the relationship that is had with government and oil companies is not a cozy relationship as the president said.
Gibbs also said there was no comparison with Katrina.
"If you look back at what happened in Katrina, the government wasn't there to respond to what was happening. That quite frankly was the problem.
"I think the difference in this case is we were there immediately. We have been there ever since."
Palin, who quit the Alaska governorship after serving less than half of one term, famously promoted the slogan "Drill, baby, drill!" that rallied supporters while dismissing possible environmental impact of off-shore drilling.
Her detractors switched the line to "Spill, baby, spill!"
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