There is no small contradiction in the British public’s ire towards Barack Obama and his criticism of BP. Obama has repeatedly called the company “British Petroleum”, which is a mistake. Since 2000, the initials “BP” have stood officially for nothing and casually for its tagline, “Beyond Petroleum”.
Into Obama’s reference, the British media has read an effort to deflect responsibility for the spill towards Britain, and it has protested that BP is, if anything, less British than American.
Simultaneously, though, commentators have called upon David Cameron to publicly defend BP, and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, worried that “a great British company (was) being…beaten up”.
The contradiction shows the world is still grappling with the exact nature of large multinationals, especially when it comes to issues of provenance and accountability.