The bad news: You have cancer.

The good news: It is confined to your left arm, and once surgeons remove the arm, you'll be completely healthy and able to live an otherwise normal life.

More bad news: You awake from the surgery to discover that doctors mistakenly removed your right arm.

No amount of money can replace your missing good limb, but the hospital and surgeons settle out of court and pay you an absolute king's ransom.

At the last minute, however, the judge steps in and says all of the cash will go into an account to pay victims of future surgery flubs.

Fair?

Hell no.

But that's precisely what may happen to Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states when BP forks over its Clean Water Act fine for 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Even though Louisiana's coast, which slipped and slid on the black moussy goop further down the tunnel to obliteration, bore the brunt of the spill, we may get as much of the Clean Water Act fine as Wyoming.

That's because the money is slated to go into the federal treasury, where it will help pay for such necessities as exorbitant public-worker salaries and free cell phones for those who don't earn the money to pay for them.

A portion of it will also be put into a fund to help clean up future oil spills.

But last year, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) co-authored a bill called the RESTORE Act that would distribute 80 percent of the fine — estimated to be in the tens of billions — to the impacted Gulf states. The bill was co-sponsored by nine of the 10 Gulf state senators, and passed through the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee in September.

Since then, however, it's been stalled. Believe it or not, there are lawmakers who just can't wait to funnel a hearty helping of that big ol' pie toward their pet projects.

Backers are hoping to attach the bill to either a transportation bill scheduled to be voted on the third week of February or a payroll-tax extension bill scheduled for the end of February.

If the RESTORE Act passes, Louisiana's comprehensive coastal plan can really get rolling. It would turn the BP spill into a long-term blessing.

Sens. Landrieu and Vitter are already strong proponents of the bill, but if you've got friends or family who live in other states, their calls to their senators and representatives could pay big dividends.