White House officials gave the public an open microphone Tuesday to address President Obama on the Gulf oil spill prior to his State of the Union Address. It's a mic like no other -- it's YouTube.
The idea is a cross between an open forum and American Idol, with thousands of folks weighing in with questions regarding the nation's worst oil spill ever, and having the rest of the participating public rate their questions. Only the cream of the crop will get before White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
And just from Tuesday's events alone, there's plenty of fodder for questions.
Minerals Mismanagement Service
Obama, for example, named Michael Bromwich, a former assistant U.S. attorney and Justice Department inspector general, as the new head of the controversial Minerals Management Service, the agency within the the Interior Department that's supposed to oversee oil and gas development on behalf of the American people. The MMS, a scandal-ridden mess under the Bush administration, further tarnished its reputation with the BP (BP) oil spill, which should have been preventable, had the agency been functioning properly. Bromwich will replace Elizabeth Birnbaum, who stepped down last month.
Add to that the oil executives who testified before Congress in the morning about the safety of offshore oil drilling and our nation's energy policy.
Here are a few of the pressing questions fellow Americans have poised via text or video, unedited:
"What is the White House going to do from now on to regulate oil companies?"
"Other countries have strict oil laws, will anything change after what happened? Or will we have the same laws?"
HAR, Whitestone, New York
"What do you think about a temporary ban on deep water oil drilling until corporations can prove they can prevent this from happening again? So far they have not provided any proof it's possible to stop an out of control deep water oil well."
Brian, Costa Mesa, CA
"Why is President Obama allowing BP to prevent Americans from photographing, videotaping or saving oil covered animals? US citizens should be able to photograph and report what they see. BP should be told they have no authority to stop anyone." meccarose, Miami, FL
"This has really served as a wake up call that we need to find more sustainable sources of energy..quickly! In the aftermath of the catastrophe, how is our government planning to develop the technology (that already may exist) for cleaner energy..now!"
"Mr. President, do you think that it is in the best interest of America at this time to completely end offshore drilling and to transition to a new, green economy?"
Zachary, Houston, Texas
"Certainly this disaster has the American government considering alternatives to oil and gas; what might these be? How soon can we expect to see them implemented?"
Rathwood, Brighton, Colorado
"Would you and your administration support a mandate stating that oil companies must automatically install a relief well on all newly constructed and existing oil rigs as a preventative measure for future oil spill disasters? Thank you."
Claire, San Diego, CA
"How is the govt going to create a transparent process that eliminates the lobbyists from having the muting effect that they have had on regulation?"
tommypjr, san francisco, ca
"how come there was no counter measure to this spill BEFORE drilling started, it just seams extremely irresponsible to allow this kind of activity to happen on are shores without any method of stopping a worst case scenario"
joy to the world, n.y city, n.y
Of the thousands of questions, most have been flagged with a "thumbs up" by a wide margin, compared with the number of "thumbs down" votes each has received. Maybe Obama's Press Secretary could try this strategy at the next White House press briefing.
Google (GOOG), which owns YouTube, issued a call to action to its users, posting a link on its search page that reads: "Ask the White House your questions about the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill."