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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: June 18

BP's Latest Blunder

We finally figured out what BP (BP) stands for, and it's not "British Petroleum," "Blunder Prone" or "Big Polluters." No, according to the oil company's chairman himself, those letters represent the words: "Big People."

British Petroleum Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg

You see, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who is Swedish, raised the ire of Gulf Coast residents even higher on Wednesday -- and you thought that was impossible -- when he told reporters in Washington that his company cares "about the small people." The remark, which was intended as a play for sympathy, boomeranged on Svanberg, forcing the company to once again beg for forgiveness.

When pressed about Svanberg's statement, BP spokesman Toby Odone told The Associated Press in an email that "it is clear that what he means is that he cares about local businesses and local people. This was a slip in translation."

Of course it was! We understand entirely. Just like we understood when his CEO Tony Hayward slipped up when he said he "wants his life back."

Hopefully, the $20 billion BP agreed to place in an escrow account to cover damage claims from the spill this week will teach them not just to watch their rigs, but their words as well.

We'll just call that $20 billion "the small people's BP," as in "Big Payback."

Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- We've found yet another BP hole worth plugging -- it's the chairman's mouth.
Before joining, Gregg Greenberg was a writer and segment producer for CNBC's Closing Bell. He previously worked at FleetBoston and Lehman Brothers in their Private Client Services divisions, covering high net-worth individuals and midsize hedge funds. Greenberg attended New York University's School of Business and Economic Reporting. He also has an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, and a B.A. in history from Amherst College.
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