Fake News: BP facing crisis in nomenclature

NEW ORLEANS (May 28) — With nearly 8,000 ideas collected from the public on how to stop the ongoing oil spill, BP announced yesterday that it will also be accepting suggestions on ways to deal with other aspects of the disaster.

Early signs yesterday that the so-called “top kill” attempt is working to halt the release of crude from a broken pipe a mile below the surface of the gulf encouraged company officials to solicit more input from observers.

“One of the earliest suggestions we received was to ‘shove it’ or ‘stick it’, and that’s exactly what we’re trying now,” said BP’s vice president for public relations Alfred Jones. “Non-experts are often the source of some very creative solutions.”

A key priority for the company at this stage in the 37-day-long catastrophe is describing how much oil has erupted into the waters off Louisiana so far. If they can’t stop the flow, at least they can put its impact in more colorful terms. Initial estimates that the spill totaled 5,000 barrels a day were revised to upwards of 19,000 barrels, but this still left many wondering how the hell much is barrel.

“We need a more descriptive unit of measure,” Jones said. “The public thinks of a barrel as something worn by a naked cartoon character, and that doesn’t accurately portray the volumes we’re talking about. If we say ‘gallon,’ people get hungry for ice cream.”

Attempts by the government to describe the slick as “containing as much oil as 2,000 gymnasiums” or “as if we filled 40,000 swimming pools and laid them end to end all the way to the sun” did little to clear the air, much less the water.

“How are we supposed to get that many pools into space?” asked Coast Guard Lt. Linda Raimer. “Remember that we’re ending the shuttle program.”

Some of the ideas received so far are putting the disaster in more personal terms. One writer, Robert Evans of Oakbrook, Ill., suggested using the unit of “cubic Bobs”.

“It’s the amount of liquid there’d be if my body were melted down,” Evans said. “That’s something we can all relate to, especially my wife whose been encouraging me to get more exercise, even though it’s too hot out.”

The public is also offering names for the various procedures BP is trying to stem the leak. Terms like “top kill,” “top hat” and “junk shot” sound cool enough, but if they’re not working, they rapidly lose their appeal.

Among the new phrases submitted so far are “tube lube,” “glug plug,” “punk rock,” “hand job,” “blast shot” and “kill boss.”

“Many of these are very good,” said BP chief executive Tony Hayward, “except maybe for that last one.”

Hayward is also hopeful someone will offer assistance in describing how much his company regrets the accident that left 11 dead and miles of fragile beaches and wetlands in danger of becoming extremely yucky.

“How many times can you say you’re sorry?” Hayward asked. “After about the fifth or sixth time, it just sounds like we’re going through the motions. It’s fine if we do that in the repair process, but we can do better when something really important happens like having a camera and microphone stuck in our face.”

Early front-runners for innovative apologies include “my bad,” “oops,” “oh crap,” “we’re so very very very to infinity regretful” and “jeez al-freaking-mighty of course we’re sorry, this thing is costing us millions of dollars a day.”

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