New Orleans, LA. – Attendees of the “Gulf Coast Leadership Summit” received a pleasant surprise this morning upon hearing a representative from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announce a ban on toxic dispersants — as well as a new free health care plan for spill and cleanup victims. Even more surprising: a BP co-presenter expressed regret for his company’s past actions, and said the oil giant would foot the bill for the new health care plan.
But the news was too good to be true. Surprise turned to confusion when an irate BP representative entered the room and interrupted the press conference. Comedy ensued as the two reps pointed fingers at each other, each claiming to be the real BP employee. Members of the press, confused, attempted to discover who was real and who wasn’t.
The answer was: except for the audience, everyone was a fake. The impostors Dr. Dean Winkeldom and Steve Wistwil, both Gulf Coast residents, collaborated with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an organization whose goal is to create sustainable communities free from industrial pollution. The organization decided to create a hoax to publicize what should be happening in response to the emerging health crisis. It was a last resort, since straightforward approaches were not working.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade action was supported by the Yes Lab, a project of The Yes Men that helps activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions on their own. Four years ago in New Orleans, The Yes Men impersonated an official from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to announce, among other things, that HUD would re-open public housing and make oil companies pay up for wetlands destruction.
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