Rich Galen

"It's unexcuseable," he says. "We put together Plaquemines Parish strike force teams; three of them. They gone out and identified all the oil that's comin' ashore." Billy's phone rings and he talks to a person who is negotiating between a wife and her husband who is in jail for ignoring a restraining order.

He hangs up and continues exactly where he left off: "The reason I went irate the last couple of weeks is, the people who are supposed to clean it up have gone out there to assess, re-assess, and try to come up with a plan."

Billy pulls out a piece of paper with one of George S. Patton's famous dicta: "A good plan executed violently and immediately is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

"If I don't have authority by mid-week to deploy these teams," he says, "… then I gotta call the White House."

Billy gets back on the six "reaches." "We need BP to get out there and start buildin' those barrier islands."

I ask if BP isn't - following the President presser on Thursday - taking its orders from the White House.

"Hell," he says, "they stop the oil and the President can only thank 'em. This is historical!"

He talks about wasted resources. Billy tells us about taking a police boat out to Grand Isle to take a look at the oil. He says there were so many boats floating around "it looked like that 'Jaws' movie." His voice gets high: "We out here looking for the shark!" he shouts. "Where's that oil at!" he mimics the people in the boats. "It was comical!"

"There're 60 airboats sitting in the Wilkenson Canal. No drivers," he says picking at the salad a waitress had brought. "Nobody knows how to drive 'em. They just sittin' there. Deployed."

Billy's daddy (also named Billy) was the GOP Chairman of Louisiana for a long time. According to local lore, he had flaming red hair so he was known as the "Red Elephant." When Billy was little, hanging around with his dad, people took to calling him "Pinky" because his hair wasn't as red as his dad's. Everyone knows that story. No one calls Billy "Pinky" any more.

Billy had been named the ABC "Person of the Week." He recalled someone saying, "Your daddy'd be real proud of you."

"I broke down and cried," he said. "My daddy always said, 'do the right thing and the rest will take care of itself.'"

There's going to be a movie about Billy.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.