I spent last Saturday in Plaquemines (pronounced PLAHCK-uh-muns) Parish (Louisiana for County) with the Parish President Billy Nungesser. You've seen Billy on TV. Unless you have one of those 72 inch flat screen TVs, it doesn't do him justice. Billy, that's all anyone calls him. goes about 6'2" and weighs about 325. Maybe more.
Plaquemines Parish is ground zero for these 273 jillion barrels of oil which are threatening to destroy the fisheries and the wetlands. Billy is in the eye of the storm and he IS the storm.
I called Billy on his cell phone and, after explaining what I wanted, he told me to meet him at "Li'l G's" restaurant. I dragged my friends Larry Katz and GOP State Chair Roger Villere (who is also running for Lt. Governor) with me because when you cross the Mississippi River from New Orleans into Plaquemines Parish - you might as well be setting foot on Mars and I wanted some guys who spoke Martian to be at my side.
Here's a basic rule: You go to Plaquemines Parish, you should either be prepared to do what Billy Nungesser wants you to do, or stay out of his sight.
Want an example? Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry was the on-site coordinator of the BP oil spill. According to Billy he told her he needs six barrier islands (which he calls "reaches") to combat the oil coming ashore: "Nothin' but those islands gonna save our wetlands," he says he told her. Adm. Landry told Billy (according to Billy) "Billy, we do not need off-shore barrier islands that are going to wash away."
Yesterday the Coast Guard announced that Adm. Landry "will return to duties as commandant of the 8th Coast Guard District in New Orleans to focus on hurricane season preparations."
Don't tell Billy what he don't need.
Billy's cell phone rings about every 20 seconds. He looks down and either presses the "ignore" button or picks it up and issues some orders, or asks some questions, and then issues some orders. I'm not certain what made him pick up the phone when I called.
When Billy expressed his views to the President last Friday, Billy said that Mr. Obama told him, "Billy, I thought you and me were on the same page." Billy told the President, "We are, Mr. President. That's why I asked [BP Chief Operating Officer] Doug Suttles to resign and not choo!"