Of all the people assigning blame for the massive oil spill in the gulf, it's awfully strange that one of them is John Mica.
John Mica — the most drill-happy congressman Florida has ever elected.
John Mica — the guy who told me a few years ago: "I voted to drill in the Everglades in the 1970s …and I'd do it again."
John Mica — the only member of Florida's congressional delegation unwilling to sign a letter in 2003 that called for drilling restrictions in the eastern gulf.
John Mica — whose brother runs the Florida Petroleum Council.
Yes, that John Mica.
In fact, the Winter Park Republican is not only looking to cast blame, he's pretty sure he's found the culprit: Barack Obama.
At a hearing last week, Mica presented his timeline for what he called "The Obama Oil Spill."
Not the British Petroleum Oil Spill, mind you. In fact, Mica went so far as to say: "I am not going to point fingers at BP, the private industry, when it is government's responsibility to set the standards, to do the inspections."
Apparently, big government wasn't big enough.
And why blame the company that actually ran the rig when you can blame the head of the opposing political party?
To tell the truth, I absolutely believe that officials in the Obama administration are partly to blame. The rotating door of lobbyists-turned-regulators has become part of Washington's culture. It's engrained in both parties. And it's repulsive.
In fact, word is already starting to leak out that some of these supposed regulators accepted trips, gifts and meals from the very oil companies they were supposed to be regulating.
Those folks should be force-fed tar balls till they choke.
But, all that said, it takes some Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics to blame the current administration for this blowout without also blaming the company that actually let it happen — and the politicians like Mica who cheer-led drilling every step of the way.
That's like pushing to build a playground in the middle of an eight-lane highway — and then acting surprised when a kid finally gets hit by a car … and blaming the highway patrol for not preventing it.
And that's one of the problems with the deflection game Mica is trying to play: It's so absurd, he looks foolish trying to play it.
Until now, Mica has been so unapologetic and unabashed about his passion for drilling, it was actually refreshing.
There was no hiding behind anyone else or excuses. He stood tall and proud — often alone.
But now that something has gone wrong — just as many predicted — Mica isn't standing quite so close to the plate.
In chatting with him Tuesday, he remained as drill-committed as ever. Asked whether the recent catastrophe had muted his enthusiasm for drilling, he quickly responded: "No. Absolutely not."
"When we had the Exxon Valdez, we didn't stop transporting."
But you know what, congressman? We also blamed Exxon.
Mica actually said he blamed more than just the current administration. He said the problems started under George W. Bush — when many of the deepwater leases were first granted and when many of the current officials were hired — and that he'd given that administration grief in the past, too. Mica said he still does.
But much of that balance was lost when Mica unveiled his "Obama Oil Spill Timeline."
And if you probe a little deeper, that seems intentional.
At one point during our discussion, when asking whether it was really fair to place the blame on the White House — and not even the oil company involved — Mica shot back: "Well, they gave Bush holy hell for Katrina after only four or five days."
Is that was this is really all about? Trying to turn BP's blowout into Obama's Katrina?
As I said before, I think there's a lot of blame to go around — from current regulators to BP, neither one of which seems able to clean up their own mess.
But anyone who thinks the politicians who've been leading the drill-baby-drill cheers aren't at the center of this oil slick as well needs a reality check.
Scott Maxwell can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6141.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun