While Rome burned, Nero fiddled. And while tens of thousands of gallons of spilled oil, natural gas and methane burn near the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf Of Mexico ... British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward spends the day off the south coast of England watching his yacht compete in an exclusive yacht race.
"Hayward took Saturday off to see his 52-foot yacht "Bob" compete in a race around the Isle of Wight off southern England. It was a good day for sailing — breezy and about 68 degrees — but anger simmered on the steamy Gulf Coast, where crude oil is still gushing from a blown-out well. 'Man, that ain't right. None of us can even go out fishing, and he's at the yacht races,' said Bobby Pitre, 33, who runs a tattoo shop in Larose, La. 'I wish we could get a day off from the oil, too.'
"BP spokespeople rushed to defend Hayward, who has drawn biting criticism as the public face of BP PLC's halting efforts to stop the spill. Company spokesman Robert Wine said the break is the first for Hayward since the Deepwater Horizon rig that BP was leasing exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and setting off the undersea gusher. 'He's spending a few hours with his family at a weekend. I'm sure that everyone would understand that,' Wine said.
"But Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who taped an interview for ABC’s This Week called Mr. Hayward’s attendance at the race 'part of a long line of P.R. gaffes and mistakes' that he has made. 'To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,' Mr. Emanuel said."
Alabama's conservative Republican Sen. Richard Shelby delivers the money quote to The New York Times: "I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil. He ought to be down here seeing what is really going on. Not in a cocoon somewhere."
UPDATE: Appearing on CBS News' Face the Nation, Shelby calls on Hayward to resign. Think Progress reports: "[Shelby's] comments were echoed by Louisiana Republican Congressman Joseph [Cao], who added BP is 'out of touch'."