New BP Oil-Spill Plan in Motion

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The first stage of BP's latest effort to quell the torrent of oil billowing into the Gulf of Mexico has succeeded. An undersea robot cut into the pipe, which could have the paradoxical effect of worsening the spill until a cap can, with luck, be placed. The extra gallons may be the least of the company's worries.

Yesterday Attorney General Eric Holder announced both civil and criminal inquiries into the spill. And, potentially worse in the short term, that Jon Stewart has returned from vacation in a piquant mood. He cut into the company like so much damaged oil pipe, pointing out that it has had 760 "willful, egregious safety violations" over the last three years. Exxon, by contrast, has one. "Exxon," explained Stewart, using the power of math, "could get 70 times the willful, egregious safety violations and still be 90 percent safer than BP."

He also suggested a new slogan for the company: "Raping the earth and fomenting civil unrest in the Middle East since 1909." Stewart managed to spare some ire for President Obama, contrasting his rhetoric on the spill with his somewhat fluffy schedule. The full episode is here.

The ocean, meanwhile, continues to fill with thick, orange oil. Last September, reports The New York Times, observers found "a thriving colony of corals, anemones, fish, crustaceans and other sea life rivaling that of any shallow-water reef in the world," in the Gulf of Mexico, just 20 miles from the Deepwater Horizon rig. Here are six words that will give you some idea of what may happen to that colony: "vast plumes of partly dissolved oil."