"President Obama may be the most visible political casualty of the BP oil spill," says Joshua Green in The Atlantic, "but there is another big loser: the Tea Party." The anti-Big Government protesters got blanket coverage on cable news shows for months, until the oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico started dominating the airwaves and the headlines. "There are still people in funny hats shouting about bailouts and vowing to 'take back the government,'" but they're nowhere to be seen on TV. And the oil disaster has done more than rob the Tea Party movement of the media spotlight. It has weakened the small-government argument that is the Tea Party's raison d'existence. Here, an excerpt:

"The Tea Party movement, animated by intense disapproval of government activism, has smacked up against an unprecedented environmental disaster that is providing a vivid daily illustration of why an activist government is sometimes necessary. There is little doubt about which force is prevailing. According to a recent CBS News poll, a majority of Americans now oppose offshore drilling, and nearly two-thirds say Obama should be doing more to stop the spill. This desire for more aggressive government action is the antithesis of the Tea Party ethos, and poses a problem for a movement that had recently been gaining steam....

The addled response to the disaster from the Tea Party's icons hasn't helped. Rand Paul, the GOP Senate nominee in Kentucky, implied that the spill was no big deal ('sometimes accidents happen') and called Obama 'un-American' for taking a hard line against BP.... No surprise, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll this week revealed that half of Americans hold an 'unfavorable impression' of the Tea Party, up from 39 percent in March."

Read the full article at The Atlantic.