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You have an opinion, but do you have what it takes to be heard?

Conor Williams
Washington, DC

Conor Williams

I’m working on a PhD in Government at Georgetown, so I’m full of ideals, but my optimism is tempered by experience.

And Everybody Knows It: Oil

Editor's note: For Wednesday morning's post, we asked our finalists to write something that could become a weekly feature.


Humans are fantastic at coming up with justifications for their worst impulses. "And Everybody Knows It" is a weekly spotlight on the latest lies we're telling each other. 

Even as our national attention span jumps to the looming midterm elections, to the new and improved foreclosure crisis, and to Bristol's latest effort on Dancing with the Stars, most news outlets are still picking over the scraps of British Petroleum's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  A number of conservatives have gleefully seized upon the possibility that the Obama Administration may have mishandled the crisis, while liberals of all stripes have found a number of their old favorites among the available corporate punching bags: BP, Halliburton, and unscrupulous energy contractors, among others.  There are plenty of eligible targets for our pitchforks. 

All of this misses the real point--by miles.  The tragic (or tragically comedic) part of all this is how unwilling most commentators are to note our collective guilt in the Deepwater tragedy.  Even as Glenn Beck sobs and harrumphs his way through another Obama-bashing session, even as NPR searches for the smoking gun in Transocean's hands, they burn the midnight--and daylight--oil to make their exposés possible.  It takes fossil fuels by the barrel to cover the spill and to assign fault. 

Of course, it's not just the news agencies that can't kick the stuff.  As humans across the country power on their smartphones or their megaphones, they contribute to a national dependence on fossil fuels that makes the insane ecological and economic risks of offshore drilling profitable and necessary.  Even those Gulf residents whose livelihoods were endangered by the spill once depended upon the oil which eventually ruined them.  The spill wasn't really the fault of those doing the drilling or those reacting to the explosion, but rather of those of us (pretty much all of us) who demand cheap access to energy, come hell or the Gulf's ruined water.  As Anthony D'Agostino and Benjamin K. Sovacool note here, it's about massive American demand, not oil supply. 

Even if you are one of those doubting the overwhelming scientific consensus on human responsibility for climate change, you're still complicit.  Global warming is irrelevant to the spill.  Our outsize demand for fossil fuels is not.  Even if you shop local and organic, heat your home with renewable fuels, and bicycle home each year for the holidays, you can't escape the element of oil dependence in your life.  We're addicted, and the recent oil spill was just one of the consequences. 

None of us is without blame, which seems both a sobering and a paralyzing thought.  Who amongst us is free enough from oil to cast the first stone, especially when we find our easiest target by looking in the mirror?  No one can seriously claim to be unaware that they really need fossil fuels, and thus everyone must shoulder the responsibility for cleaning up our act along with the Gulf.  It's everybody's fault, and everybody knows it.  

Read more posts from this round. See what the judges are saying. And cast your vote on Friday.

By Conor Williams  |  October 20, 2010; 8:19 AM ET  | Category:  Blogging Challenge , Recurring Feature
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Please report offensive comments below.

Tax Gasoline to pay for roads and infrastructure: Vehicles that use the roads create the need and cause the damage. More miles driven equals more maintenance needed. Gasoline is the only thing that should be taxed to pay for roads. Virginia currently has one of the lowest gasoline taxes in the nation yet needs $100 Billion for transportation infrastructure over the next 15 years. Either tax gasoline enough to pay for it, or live without well maintained roads and infrastructure.

State Sales, Gasoline, Cigarette, and Alcohol Taxes

Use common sense and Tax products that create the needs and expense; otherwise communities should live without safe and efficient roads, rail, and public transportation or elect someone that can do what is needed.

Posted by: Airborne82 | October 22, 2010 1:39 PM
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Seriously, what difference does it make whether you like my opinion or not?

Yes, to be honest, I find most of the contestants' blogposts uninspiring and uninteresting to date, but have hope that will change over time. So what?

I'm not attempting to invalidate anyone else's assessment. In fact, I love the diversity of opinions. That's part of what makes this contest fun. I've even agreed with jack and walter, as well as others. And thanks for the link, jack.

Posted by: MsJS | October 20, 2010 12:29 PM
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Wow! Another big issue, more fresh insight, presented in a well written, hard to stop reading way.

The WP should hire you today and replace some of their world is flat guys. Great stuff Great Pundit.

Posted by: chucky-el | October 20, 2010 12:19 PM
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Yes! Got you all thinking, didn't I?

Posted by: MsJS | October 20, 2010 12:02 PM
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er...strike one of those "constantly"s

Posted by: waltersobchak2 | October 20, 2010 10:32 AM
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Seriously MSJS,

You've got enough time to constantly rip longer, more thoughtful posts constantly and to congratulate everyone writing the shortest, fluffiest nonsense. Maybe you could use that time to actually read through some of the former?

Posted by: waltersobchak2 | October 20, 2010 10:31 AM
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MSJS: You missed the point again. Those quotes you wrote are not lies that everyone is telling themselves...

I think the idea is to provoke a reader into telling themselves the truth about a dangerous, yet commonplace, lie. This is something that most Americans don't seem to have the courage to do and it's costing us a lot. This blog is like a wake up call...perfect for morning muffin-o'clock. Set's us off on the right foot.

Here's a good lie example: That muffin you ate, unless whole-grain and containing fruits and nuts, is giving you a healthier heart and making you 10 seconds faster per mile in your weekly jog. Wake up and drink some water!

Furthermore...I wish there was a "Report Impertinent Comment" button instead of just an "Offensive" one.

Posted by: jhones | October 20, 2010 10:07 AM
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MSJS has the least insightful comments I've ever seen on a blog comments thread.

And that is a low bar:

Posted by: JackRyan82 | October 20, 2010 9:58 AM
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The blog is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooooooo loooooooooooooong.

Why would I want to read about something everyone knows about with my morning muffin?
"The earth is not flat!"
"America uses immense amounts of petroleum!"
"The American flag has 13 stripes!"
"When dropped in a glass of soda pop, a pulled tooth fizzes and decays like nobody's business!"

Posted by: MsJS | October 20, 2010 9:37 AM
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