I heard a story of how a company wanted to reduce the dust getting generated in their earthen parking lot. The suggested approach involved spraying oil over the lot. This apparently works if done correctly; unfortunately in this particular case, everything, including the cars, became a sticky contaminated mess.
Unintended consequences also occur when a non-media-approved thinker appears on commercial TV. From Bill Maher's RealTime:
MAHER: Why do you think we did Iraq? I mean, what is the bottom line reason? I assume that you don’t think that the reasons given were the real reasons.
CHOMSKY: I think that the polls taken in Baghdad explain it very well. They seem to understand. The United States invaded Iraq to gain control of one of the major sources of the world’s energy, right in the heart of the world’s energy producing regions, to create, if they can, a dependent client state, to have permanent military bases, and to gain what’s called “critical leverage” – I’m quoting Zbigniew Brzezinski – to gain critical leverage over rivals, the European and Asian economies. If you hold the – it’s been understood since the Second World War, that if you have your hand on that spigot, the source of the –world – main source of the world’s energy – you have what early planners called “veto power” over others.
Those are all very – Iraq is also the last part of the world where there are vast, untapped, easily accessible energy resources. And you can be sure that they want the profits from that to go primarily to U.S.-based multi-nationals and back to the U.S. Treasury, and so on. Not to rivals. There are plenty of reasons for invading Iraq. [applause]
As Michael Leon says in the epilogue to this transcript: "Pretty straight-forward stuff." Unfortunately, many in the blogosphere get wound up over the effects of Chomsky the person rather than the contents of the interview. For example, Alterman off-handedly remarks after witnessing a right wing panelist (Sullivan) exploding over Chomsky's responses: "Noam Chomsky, (with whom I strongly disagree on almost everything, for the record)". Neither does Atrios add anything to the content of the interview.
It looks like a clear-cut case of misdirection (by Sullivan) and then attacking the messenger and not the message (by everyone else). In this case, even a reference to oil transforms the proceedings into a sticky situation.