The current environmental disaster in the Gulf is a great publicity op. It's been in the headlines for months, and we'll continue to talk about it for months -- even years -- to come. Environmental causes elicit very little scrutiny; who wants to be the bad guy that questions whether a cause billed as "green" really is green?
Now Sandra Bullock, the face of a new Gulf restoration PSA called "Be the One," is calling BS on her own cause.
According to RestoretheGulf.com, "The 'Be the One' effort intends to galvanize the nation around the cause of coastal restoration in order to demand that government leaders address this critical issue."
Doesn't sound so incriminating, does it? Look a little further.
"Be the One" is presented by Women of the Storm, a "non-political, non-partisan group of diverse women from metropolitan New Orleans and south Louisiana. The common bond among these women is their passion to rebuild their homes, businesses, and communities."
Still not so bad, right? Dig a little deeper.
Specifically, scroll down and find that "America's Wetland Foundation" badge in the left sidebar. Women of the Storm counts many organizations among their partners, but America's Wetland Foundation is the one that gets front-page billing.
But wait, they're an environmental foundation! How can that be a problem?
Take a look at their sponsor page: Shell, Chevron, Citgo, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, and BP. All of these oil companies are underwriting the efforts of America's Wetland Foundation, and in turn, Women of the Storm and RestoretheGulf.com, including "Be the One."
Do you really think they're going to advocate any course of action that threatens the profits of oil companies? If they do, they risk losing sponsorship and the dollars that come along with it.
I'm not sure how much the celebrities involved with the PSA -- including Emeril Lagasse, Lenny Kravitz, and Dave Matthews -- knew about the trail of organizations involved with it, but I can't give RestoretheGulf.com the benefit of the doubt.
Their FAQ poses these questions: "But isn't BP already paying? Do you expect taxpayers to pay for this? Who do you expect to fully fund the restoration efforts?" and glibly replies, "We care that Gulf Coast restoration is fully funded and sustainably implemented. We have not identified specific sources or combinations of public/private dollars. The critical need for coastal restoration precedes the oil spill, however."
In other words, BP made a mess, but somebody else made another mess first. BP shouldn't have to clean up everything. Sounds like the arguments between my kids when I tell them to clean up.
Whatever the true motives of all of these organizations may be, I agree with Sandra Bullock that there's enough reason for suspicion that I wouldn't want to be a part of it either.