Jillian Bandes

Liberal activists say that British Petroleum has shirked its responsibilities in dealing with the gulf oil spill, so they’ve started a boycott of the company. Like many boycotts, this one doesn’t seem to be very effective.

“BP had the resources to drill and create this horrible disaster, now they have the responsibility to clean it up,” said Levana Layedecker, Communications Director of Democracy for America, in a release. “But, they won't do it on their own. They need to know we will make them pay one way or another.”

Rush Limbaugh

Apparently, the $17.5 million a day ($1.2 billion in total) that BP has already paid isn’t enough. The company “continues to deny the extent of the problem,” and “is still playing games with the numbers,” sentiments also expressed by our commander in Chief. It’s not clear if Democracy for America, or Obama, wants BP to simply stop the spill, or pony up more money in the meantime. Whatever the case, Democracy for America and a host of other liberal groups are trying to impose punitive damages on the oil company with a widespread boycott of the company’s gas stations.

Groups involved include Ralph Nader's consumer advocacy organization “Public Citizen,” a 300,000-member Facebook group, a bizarre alliance between nu-metal band Korn and pop-icons the Backstreet Boys, in addition to activists such as Jesse Jackson and Cindy Sheehan. Their methods vary from simply encouraging followers to buy elsewhere, to donating money for tacky bumper stickers that say “Boycott BP: AnyoneButBP.com.”

If it seems futile, that’s because it is, says one industry insider who spent 25 years in the business.

“When someone says, ‘I want to boycott BP,’ the person you wind up hurting is the guy who lives in the community, buys the pages in the high school year book, and the cookies from the girl scouts. So, not he’s representing the ‘evil’ BP,” he said. “What I think they ought to do instead is…start walking.”

In other words, boycotting certain gas stations only stands to harm individual gas station owners, not the larger company. That’s because individual stations that have the BP logo on them may or may not buy from a BP gas distributor. More importantly, stations that don’t have the BP logo are just as likely to buy from a BP distributor. A host of liberal media outlets, from the New York Times to Time magazine, have pointed out the futility of a boycott.

Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com