Friday, July 23, 2010

23 JUL 10: Grilling and Grumbling

Instant Message to all members of Congress who criticized President Obama for vacationing in Maine: Do YOU plan to vacation on the Gulf coast, as you say the President should have done? If you don't, Michael Moore might pay you a visit - and he was pulling political stunts in the media long before Andrew Breitbart did.

Columbus may be a four-hour drive from the Gulf of Mexico and the big oil spill, but one local company plans to show it cares today. Masterbuilt hopes to feed 1,000 people in Gulf Shores, in a luncheon called "Grillin' for the Gulf." It's a bit like the big Jimmy Buffett concert -- except it's a buffet.

Masterbuilt President and CEO John McLemore has been in Gulf Shores for a couple of days, preparing for the big free lunch. He wrote on Twitter it's for "anyone affected" by the oil spill - from fishing crews to cleanup workers. But I assume BP executives in south Alabama will need to show up in a disguise....

(The luncheon will be served at Gulf Shores's civic center. I assume this will be indoors - because otherwise, the weather might be stickier than oil on a pelican.)

But Grillin' for the Gulf won't serve the typical Gulf coast meal. John McLemore told WLTZ the lunch will have 500 pounds of ribs. And the main event may be 90 fried turkeys, prepared with Masterbuilt's Butterball turkey fryers. Alabamians used to fish on Fridays will have to pay for it at Captain D's.

So let's be honest -- this massive Masterbuilt mission is partly a public relations effort. The company probably hopes to gain some customers from Grillin' for the Gulf. And managers also ought to hope no one complains about the turkey actually being fried, not grilled.

(Hey, wait a minute - they're frying turkeys for cleanup workers?! They spend day after day searching for oil on the beach, and now they're going to eat some for lunch.)

Masterbuilt's John McLemore is one of many people encouraging Southerners to visit the Gulf coast, because the oil spill has cost the area a lot of tourists. As they might say along Mobile Bay, business has gone from "jumbo shrimp" to an unhappy medium.

Alabama's Attorney General stepped into the oily mess Thursday. Troy King announced he'll file a lawsuit for the state against BP, because the current damage claims process is too slow. King wants the payoff to be almost as fast as electronic bingo machines do it at Victoryland.

Troy King surprisingly suggested the President's man in charge of oil spill compensation is acting in partnership with BP. King claimed Ken Feinberg actually is being paid by the oil company. If that's true, then why hasn't Feinberg in any of BP's TV commercials?

Meanwhile, three people who were fishing for tuna near the BP oil rig when it exploded in April filed their own lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks compensation for "emotional distress" - not to mention the fact that something blackened their tuna besides charcoal.

-> Thursday night was another big one at the poker table for us. Read what happened (and more) at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

SPAM-A-RAMA: I haven't been to the Gulf coast in nine months -- yet amazingly, I was informed the other day I could be eligible for money from the oil spill compensation fund. Now why would this news sent by e-mail possibly wind up in my "Spam" box?!

"Has the BP Oil Spill Caused you Financial Loss?" the spam e-mail asks. I'm supposed to click on a link to "take action.... claim your part of the $20 Billion Compensation Fund." Personally, I think it's the opposite. Oil on coastal beaches has saved me money -- lowering my temptation to play poker in Biloxi or Panama City Beach.

The fine print of the e-mail indicates it came from a marketing firm - NOT based along the Gulf coast, but in Carson City, Nevada. Aw, c'mon! If I want to make big bucks from the oil spill, I'll stay at home and call attorney Gary Bruce.

Now let's degrease ourselves from all this oil, and check other Thursday news:

+ The high temperature in Columbus hit 100 degrees F. Yet a low dew point allowed for a morning run of nearly one-and-a-half miles. And at this time of year, I don't have to worry about getting lost while running. I simply follow my trail of sweat drops on the sidewalk from home.

+ The candidates for Columbus Mayor held a forum on disability issues at the main library. WTVM reported the candidates plan to hold 18 forums across the city before Election Day. Perhaps by the end of the 18th forum, Paul Olson will be able to finish making all his points.

(Candidate Zeph Baker admitted he wants to see a bigger turnout in the November election, compared with this week's Georgia Primary. I don't think he'll have to worry about that - especially if Sarah Palin starts calling Roy Barnes names.)

+ The Russell County School Board voted 4-3 to begin contract talks with Interim Superintendent Mike Green, to give him the job permanently. Of course, in Russell County the superintendent's job is about as "permanent" as that of a pro basketball head coach.

(WRBL's website reported five finalists for superintendent were supposed to be considered, but board member Chuck Johnson moved for Green to be appointed on the spot. You'd almost think Russell County's school year starts next Monday, not in two weeks.)

+ WRBL's broadcast signal apparently was off the air all evening. I couldn't watch the station newscasts at all on my set. But then again, sometimes I have to leave the living room before my antenna picks up some stations at all.

+ WTVM reported the McDonald's on Macon Road has reopened, after weeks of renovation. The restaurant now has two drive-through lanes - which makes me wonder why Publix didn't approach McDonald's in the first place, if the supermarket really needs a drive-through pharmacy.

+ Georgia had its turn at Southeastern Conference football "Media Days." Receiver A.J. Green denied any illegal tampering by an agent at a party in Miami, telling reporters he's never even been to Miami. OK - so did any reporter follow that up by asking about visits to Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach?

SCHEDULED NEXT WEEK: I make a big capture, and you'll see the proof....

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