It took just a few minutes and a few words about “small people” to undercut any brownie points that BP won by agreeing to put $20 billion into escrow to compensate victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In remarks to reporters after BP executives met with President Obama at the White House, the company’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said: “People say that large oil companies don’t care about the small people. But we care. We care about the small people.”
BP tried to explain it away as a slip of the tongue by Mr. Svanberg, who is Swedish. Toby Odone, a BP spokesman, told The Associated Press in an e-mail message: “It is clear that what he means is that he cares about local businesses and local people. This was a slip in translation.”