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BP Takes a Page from the MythBusters, Hires a Turd Polisher

Courtesy of the Washington Post, we meet Bob Dudley, the man that reporter Steven Mufson dubbed “the human relief well.” His job, says their headline writer, is to “polish [BP’s] tarnished image.”

Good luck with that, Bob.

It’ll be rough, but don’t let anyone tell you that your job is impossible. To fans of the best science program on television, MythBusters, this job sounds very familiar.

In December 2008, MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman took on the myth that says (as they most delicately phrased it) “you can’t polish a turd.” Using techniques borrowed from the ancient Japanese art of dorodungo, they demonstrated that it *is* possible to polish a turd — i.e., turn a piece of dung into a bright shiny object — but it takes a lot of time, a lot of hard repetitive work, and single-minded attention to the surprisingly delicate task at hand, plus a willingness to put up with lots and lots of very bad odors while you go about your work.

What you can’t do is say “there are no turds around here.”

To help BP and their new polisher-in-chief stay focused on their task of polishing that . . . image, here’s some advice. Every time Dudley gets on television, the producer in the control room should put up a split screen. In one screen is the wispy-haired, American-accented, calm demeanor of Dudley (as Mufson described him), soberly answering questions and assuring the world that BP is on top of things. In the other screen would be a rotating montage of images like these:

If you’re going to polish a turd, you have to start by admitting that you’re polishing a turd. You can do your polishing wearing a beret or not wearing a beret, but concentrating on the crap in your hands is mandatory.

Maybe that split screen can help everyone stay focused.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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