A Tale of Two Governors
By David Harrison, Staff Writer
One Mississippi governor talks down the damage of the Gulf oil spill. Another has been given the task of managing the cleanup.
The state's current chief executive, Haley Barbour, has raised his national profile with his optimistic assessment of the spill and his "happy-go-Haley" attitude that earned him a front-page profile in The New York Times Sunday. As other Republican governors in the region, such as Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, have taken Washington to task over the pace of the federal effort, Barbour stands out for saying the Obama administration has "done more right than wrong," according to the paper. Instead, he blames the media for relentlessly showing images of oil-drenched birds.
His refusal to excoriate BP and his cheerful boosterism of his state has led some Republicans to consider him a possible candidate for president in 2012. The term-limited Barbour is wrapping up his second term as governor this year.
Meanwhile, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to oversee the recovery efforts from the spill. Mabus will work with state, local and tribal governments to put together a long-term plan to restore the region's environment, the Hattiesburg American reported last week. The effort will be funded by BP. Mabus, a Democrat, served as governor from 1988 to 1992. He campaigned for Obama in 2008. Mabus' appointment was praised by the state's two U.S. Senators, both Republicans.
Mississippi has so far not seen the type of oil slicks that have been washing up on the shores of Louisiana, but the Biloxi Sun-Herald reported Sunday that "rust-colored" material had started floating into the Bay of St. Louis.
"It's time to start beefing up the protection immediately," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.