Slick cover-up

Issue section: 

In the wake of the BP oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, Barack Obama poured scorn on the "cosy relationship" between Washington and the oil industry.

Some weren't impressed. "I think one of the risks associated with his rhetoric on the spill is that it hardens the divide between the Democratic Party and the business community," said David Rothkopf, a former commerce department official under Bill Clinton. "And that's something that while it seems to be in the spirit of the moment now, could have serious ramifications come election time."

But business and government appear to be working together as well as ever, aside from the rhetoric.

When CBS journalists tried to film some of the worst of the oil spill, on a beach in Louisiana, they were stopped by a boatload of BP contractors and two coastguard officers.

The coastguards, part of the US Army, threatened to arrest the film crew unless they turned back. According to one person aboard the boat, "This is BP's rules; it's not ours."