BP chairman: Like Obama, we care about the "small people"

From today’s impromptu presser outside the White House, skip ahead to 4:45 for the money quote. BP execs are already infamous for tin-eared soundbites, but this one so perfectly plays into the media caricature of soulless plutocrats — Marc Ambinder’s dubbed it “Dickensian” — that I have to assume it’s an artifact of Svanberg’s grasp of English. “Little people” would have played marginally better since it’s a political term of art, but given his position, even in that case he would have been out on a highwire. Oh well. If these guys aren’t willing to spend a few bucks on basic PR lessons, them’s the breaks. As it is, the backlash to his comment is already building in the gulf.

As for whether there was any ass-kicking at today’s Obama/BP confab, apart from the $20 billion escrow fund, the only news to emerge thus far is that BP won’t be paying dividends this year in order to cover potential liabilities for the spill. I say “thus far” because Daniel Foster’s surely right that BP is going to become The One’s point man on pushing cap-and-trade, giving him some political cover on his agenda after having almost singlehandedly derailed it via the spill. Don’t think Reid can get the votes to pass C&T? Ah, then you’re not thinking far ahead enough, my friends. Even if the great Republican tsunami materalizes, there’s still a two-month lame-duck session after Election Day and before the new Congress is seated. A lot can happen. And, apparently, will:

EXCLUSIVE: Phil Schiliro, the White House congressional liaison, has told the Senate to aim to take up an energy bill the week of July 12, after the July 4 break (and after the scheduled final passage of Wall Street reform). Kagan confirmation will follow, ahead of the summer break, scheduled to begin Aug. 9. The plan is to conference the new Senate bill with the already-passed House bill IN A LAME-DUCK SESSION AFTER THE ELECTION, so House members don’t have to take another tough vote ahead of midterms.

Geraghty wants the GOP to demand that Democrats pledge before the election that they won’t vote for C&T, but that means as much to me as it does to Ace: A little bit of jack and a whole lot of squat.

Exit question via CBS: Now that we’ve declared war on the spill or whatever, is BP an Allied country or an Axis power? (Exit answer: Grudging ally, same as Uncle Joe!)

Update: Via Ben Smith, it begins.