Today In “Imagine If Bush Said It…”

President Obama asks a reporter to show him the tar balls in her trunks, which sounds more like a Bones episode title than a colloquy with the President of the United States:

New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes was skeptical: “Can you be sure these oil tar balls are from the oil spill? Because when I used to swim on the Gulf in Texas, I’d get tar balls in my bathing suit all the time.”

Allen and Randolf, the parish president, confirmed that tar balls do wash up at other times, though these, they said, were likely from the spill.

But the president was distracted. “At some point, Jackie, we’ll want to hear more about those tar balls and your bathing suit,” Obama said, as reporters laughed.

UPDATE: Per Tom’s comment, I have corrected the reporter’s gender.

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Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.


  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Imagine what wouild have happened if Bush would have, through his dad, offered Toomey a advisory position not to run against Specter in the 2004 primary. Funny that they would think the offer of an advisory postion which did not pay would be an enticement to not compete in a democratic primary, and it was important enough to engage William Jefferson Clinton to make the non offer.

  2. DP says:

    obama’s new nickname:

    Ol’ Tar Balls

  3. mc says:

    As a kid at Virginia Beach in the last 1950’s (!) tar balls were the bane of our beach fun. They were there, we knew it and along with horseshoe crabs & jellyfish, tried not to step on them. The worst was when they floated into your hair and Mom had to use solvent or cut them out. Where were they coming from? We never worried about all that back then. Natural seepage or tanker leaks or nearby industry?

  4. ak4mc says:

    Can’t refer to Obama by any nickname including the word “tar.” That would be, um…

  5. Tom Maguire says:

    Sorry if I am stating the obvious, but…

    Jackie Calmes is a woman (she had a question at the Thursday press conference), so the lead should be:

    “President Obama asks a reporter to show him the tar balls in *her* trunks…”.

    I don’t want to to imagine the reaction if Bush had made that comment to a woman.

  6. Fred Beloit says:

    I got tar-balled at Cocoa Beach, FL, some years ago. My girlfriend taught me the best way to clean up was with petroleum jelly. Of course then you had to clean off the vaseline. BTW, I wuv you, DP (see “Ol’ Tar Balls”) . But what a mokes our good President is. Really.

  7. bigfingo says:

    I can kill a mime without making a sound.

  8. Fatty Bolger says:

    President jokes as Gulf tragedy deepens
    Associated Press Writers

    ROBERT, La. (AP) — As the nation remained transfixed by a busted oil well spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, President Bush laughed and exchanged jokes with members of the press in his first press conference in almost a year.

  9. Phil says:

    I remember getting tar all over my shorts sitting on Ipanema Beach about 15 years ago. Never heard anybody comment on it in any way. Seemed to be an accepted part of going to the beach.

  10. DP says:

    too late, ak4mc

    the name has stuck


  11. DP says:

    @ Fred –


    But I guess it is a “tacky” nick.

    I’m here all week

  12. Don M says:

    Why do you think the folks in North Carolina were called “Tar-heels”?

  13. edh says:

    I think Obama is about to be “tea-bagged” with “tar-balls.”

  14. Walter Sobchak says:

    Ms Calmes report on

    “At the beach, Mr. Obama walked with and asked questions of Admiral Allen and Charlotte Randolph, the president of the parish. Both the admiral and Ms. Randolph said they assumed the tar balls were from the BP disaster, though they acknowledged that such oil debris is common at coastal beaches, like this one, within sight of giant oil rigs. There was no evident sign of oil in the waters along the shore or out toward the horizon dotted by rigs.”

    This level of skepticism by a NYTimes reporter is absolutely unprecedented. We can assume that she will be laid off shortly.

  15. Ted says:

    Natural crude oil seepage was a bane of So. Calif. beach-goers long before offshore drilling. I recall Rincon as especially tarry. Also, the bane of prehistoric L. A. critters (cf. La Brea tarpits)

  16. vtatag says:

    I concur with Ted, before the off shore rigs were in place, there was tar on the beaches from Carpinteria south. Several natural seepage points along the coast. Chumash used it for their boats. Plus the rigs off our coast are welcome for navigation and have created some great habitats.

    To the article – maybe “tar balls” is code for “just as in bed with Big Oil as the rest of them.” or maybe she reverse-sexual harrassed the President.

    Imagine if Clinton had said it…

  17. ray says:

    Tar, Baby, Tar!

  18. StewartIII says: