Not the Bipartisanship We Were Looking For

From CNN:

Energy giant BP has hired a Washington-based, bipartisan political consulting firm to produce its new aggressive national advertising push, including a national TV spot released Thursday, CNN has learned.

Sources familiar with the arrangement say that Purple Strategies, headed up by veteran political consultants Steve McMahon, a Democrat, and Alex Castellanos, a Republican, produced new advertisements now running on both television and in newspapers.

The sources say that BP hired Purple Strategies to produce what will likely be a series of advertisements as part of BP's attempt to rehabilitate its battered image.

Purple Strategies is working alongside the Brunswick public relations firm, which has had BP as a client for some time. Its Washington office is run by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

I know, you're shocked that a bunch of high-profile Democrats would not just be working for oil companies but working to get Americans not to feel so bad about the worst environmental disaster in the country's history. The strategy devised by this group of PR geniuses seems to be, as Mediaite put it, "What Americans really want to see is more Tony Hayward." He's in a TV ad! He's on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page! He'll personally come to your house and do that "I'm really pained here" face!

This is one of those situations that all the PR in the world isn't going to help. But in the end, BP will probably be fine. Remember how after the Valdez disaster, people used to avoid filling up at Exxon stations, because everyone thought Exxon was such a despicable environmental criminal? Well, these days the company is doing just fine -- ExxonMobil is the second largest corporation in the world (after Wal-Mart), and in the first quarter of this year, it made $6.3 billion in profits.

-- Paul Waldman

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