Energy Secretary Nerd Wins Respect Of BP JocksS

As White House spokespeople are constantly saying on television, Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a Nobel laureate. Now he's down in the Gulf working hard to fix the oil spill. But do the BP bullies respect his magical powers?

Obama has also called in some of the many scientists on the federal payroll, led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Chu at one point pushed the unusual idea of using gamma rays to peer into the blowout preventer to determine if its valves were closed, a technique he experimented with in graduate school while studying radioactive decay.

The suggestion at first elicited snickering and "Incredible Hulk" jokes. Then they tried it, and it worked. "They weren't hot on his ideas," a senior White House official said of BP's initial reaction to Chu's suggestions. "Now they are."

One suspects that this story is a bit more complicated than our source the "senior White House official" (probably Chu himself) lets on, but whatever, the pleasant Disney narrative of teen angst between the lovable government nerd and the private-sector villains ("the football team") works for us.

Did you know that there is still an endless gusher of oil coming out of the Earth in the Gulf of Mexico, by the way? Why can't Steven Chu just fill up a few cardboard boxes with these "gamma rays" and jam 'em in there? Perhaps this suggestion at first elicits snickering, but it's worth Googling around for a few minutes.

[Image via AP]