From The Washington Post:
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg attempted an earnest apology Wednesday for the worst environmental accident ever to befall America, but it will be remembered for only two words:
Svanberg came with other BP executives to the White House, where he said President Obama made clear that he is “frustrated because he cares about the small people.”
“And we care about the small people,” added Svanberg, who is Swedish. “I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care. But that is not the case indeed. We care about the small people.”
The “small people” took the remark very well and reacted accordingly.
Just like that, a new slogan was born. It sardonically swept through cyberspace and landed in the gulf, where it was greeted with no more enthusiasm than the unrefined crude gushing from BP property.
“We’re not small people. We’re human beings. They’re no greater than us. We don’t bow down to them. We don’t pray to them,” said Justin Taffinder of New Orleans.
“Purely a translation matter,” e-mailed BP spokesman Scott Dean. And later Wednesday, Svanberg apologized for his apology: “I spoke clumsily this afternoon, and for that, I am very sorry.”
BP’s European executives have consistently struggled to strike the right tone in response to the oil spill. Svanberg was the guy who was supposed to demonstrate all the humility that Tony Hayward, the company’s chief executive, can’t quite muster.
Heckuva job, Svannie!
BP officials have also caught flak for using the word “scheme” — British parlance for a large institutional plan but a word more akin to “scam” here — when talking about a fund to pay claims.
Here’s a tip: In America, when we say “put a lid on it,” we mean all of it.
Here’s another tip, Svannie–hire someone from this side of the pond who knows how to apologize: