The mood in Louisiana over the Deep Horizon oil catastrophe has matured from shock, to bafflement, to anger and has now slipped into the surreal. Stanton had come, along with a senior representative of BP, to address the people of Phoenix, a small community on the east bank of the Mississippi.
In the end, the head of the coastguard adopted a more conciliatory tone. "There's nothing I can say that will comfort you," he said to the crowd whose livelihoods – some believe their entire way of life – are in the balance.
But there is one thing absolutely bankable, in the face of this disaster; expect lies, more lies, political finger-pointing, and more attempts to pass the buck on culpability here.