Can Bounty Hunters Fix the BP Spill?

Courtesy of <a href="http://walkwithbud.com">Bud Chiles for Governor</a>

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Think Florida politics and the BP oil-spill drama couldn’t get any weirder? Try again.

In his longshot bid to win the governor’s race, a scion of Sunshine State royalty is offering a novel plan to clean up the Deepwater Horizon spill: Force BP to put a cash bounty on crude and pay an “army of private citizens” for personally catching and returning the oil in drips and drabs.

Lawton “Bud” Chiles III, the unaffiliated dark-horse candidate in question, announced his plan in an open message to President Obama:

Chiles today called on President Obama to cut through the red tape and have BP offer a “bounty” on oil, paying citizens by the gallon or pound for the tar and oil they recover on the beaches and in the Gulf.  He said that a cash incentive would give thousands of citizens an opportunity and an incentive to participate in the clean-up efforts and bypass the bureaucracy the government and BP have created…

He said the current response effort amounts to “the federal government watching BP push a rope uphill.  Let’s skip the red tape and the endless delays and mobilize an army of private citizens to do what BP has failed to do for weeks: Clean up this colossal disaster.”

How much does Chiles think Floridians should get for their crude booty? Fifty bucks a gallon, according to this report. But it’s not all fun and games, people.

For the record, picking up crude oil or petroleum dispersants without a lot of protective gear—or even with it—is not the best idea in the world, as MoJo‘s BP spill coverage has ably proven. But that’s cool, people—Bud’s got your back:

Recognizing that the crude oil washing up on the beaches is considered hazardous waste, Chiles said that training in safely handling the products should be provided to the public in large venues. BP and the State are already providing this training as part of the vessels of opportunity program (VOP) and emergency management operational training.

Lest you think this is a display of unreflective Tea Party patriotism, Bud Chiles is the son of deceased former governor “Walkin’ Lawton” Chiles—a moderate Democrat, revered for his aw-shucks populism, who famously walked across the state and never lost an election. (Chiles is also attributed with helping another onetime dark horse, Bill Clinton, almost win the state in 1992. “I know this fella from Arkansas,” Chiles once said, introducing candidate Clinton at a fundraiser, “and I can tell you he knows how to speak cracker.”)

Bud is looking to capitalize on his dad’s Florida “cracker” legacy: A political novice and a latecomer to the current gubernatorial race, his chances of winning the Democratic nomination were virtually nil, so he’s running as an independent populist. And it doesn’t get much more populist than calling for a tar ball in every pot.

A quick search of the Web found me no precedents for the Chiles plan, but one nautical bounty hunter has a poignant piece of advice for any novice hopefuls out there:

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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