FreedomWorks CEO Goes To Bat For BP, Calls Oil Spill ‘A Natural Disaster’

During an interview today with FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe on ABC’s Top Line, host Karen Travers noted that the cover of his upcoming book — Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto — says “lower taxes plus less government equals more freedom.” Travers then asked, “How does that less government sentiment square with this massive government effort down there in the Gulf to contain the spill?”

In response, Kibbe was able to kill two birds with one stone: deflect criticism from BP and his own personal philosophy by saying that he expects government to act “when there is a natural disaster”:

KIBBE: Well I think if you look at what’s happened down there, it’s a sad story of government incompetence as well as negligence on the part of BP. And I think what you have to look at is when there is a natural disaster like this we do expect our government to do some things and to do them well. And the whole point of limited government is you want the government to be competent at those few things that we need it to do and this is an example where the government was asleep at the switch and there’s a series of regulations that led to deep drilling as opposed to more economical and safer options.

Watch it (starting at 4:00):

Of course, natural disasters are uncontrollable events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Tens of millions of gallons of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico due to an oil company’s negilgence and misconduct does not qualify. In fact, just last year, BP opposed stricter safety and environmental rules proposed by the U.S. Minerals Management Service. A BP executive tried to fight off the new regulations on Capitol Hill, saying that drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has been shown to be “both safe and protective of the environment.”

Even though Kibbe lobbed the obligatory “negligence” charge at BP, what he didn’t explain is that he might have an interest in deflecting blame away from the oil giant. As ThinkProgress reported last month, FreedomWorks worked with BP to build grassroots support for opening up large sections of both the East and West coasts to new oil drilling. BP listed the group as part its “significant grassroots supporters” on a PowerPoint slide at a presentation by the BP-funded front group “Consumer Energy Alliance” at a conference in 2007.