VENICE, La.  — The “small people” of the Gulf Coast have a humongous message for oil giant BP: They’re tired of the company’s big-time executives making insensitive comments.

On Wednesday, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told reporters in Washington: “I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people.”

Orange Beach, Ala., Mayor Tony Kennon laughed when he heard Svanberg’s remark.

“They can call me small, miniature, they can call me anything they want. Just write the check and send it to us,” he said.

But Justin Taffinder of New Orleans was not amused.

“We’re not small people. We’re human beings. They’re no greater than us. We don’t bow down to them …” Taffinder said.

Svanberg is Swedish, and his comments – in English – may have been an unintentional slight. He uttered the remark to reporters following a joint press conference with President Obama – who had spoken of the small-business owners, the fishermen and the shrimpers.

But coastal residents were angry over the disaster and at BP CEO Tony Hayward’s comments that he “wants his life back.”

Asked about the chairman’s remark, BP spokesman Toby Odone told The Associated Press in an e-mail that “it is clear that what he means is that he cares about local businesses and local people. This was a slip in translation.”