Return to Transcripts main page
JOHN KING, USA
BP's Effort to Cap the Spill; BP's Top Boss Apologized; Spilled Oil's Impact on the Wildlife
Aired June 3, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. A dramatic sensitive undersea operation in the Gulf of Mexico is approaching judgment hour tonight. BP is trying to lower a cap onto the well that for 45 days now has been spewing oil into those sensitive waters off Louisiana's coast.
We will know soon if the operation works and if most of the leak can finally be contained. This is a live look at where that cap will be mounted along with two designed to carry most of the oil to ships (ph) a mile up and w0e will track it throughout the hour with you.
This progress, though, comes at a price. In the short term, slicing the vent pipe off the well riser means more oil is flowing out. Some experts believe up to 20 percent more. In a moment, the president's top environmental adviser tells us of the generational damage already done. But, first, the operation itself has proved today's progress has not calmed the testy political environment to the contrary. The president sat down exclusively with our Larry King today, and when asked how he appeared to be so calm suggested his look must be deceiving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am furious at this entire situation because this is an example of where somebody didn't think through the consequences of their actions. And it is imperiling not just a handful of people. This is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for potentially years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: If you've watched much TV today, you've probably seen one of the people at making the president so furious. A new ad featuring the BP CEO Tony Hayward saying he's sorry. It's the same Tony Hayward who initially said the environmental impact would be very, very modest and who lamented just the other day that he wanted his life back. Sufficed to say, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is not a fan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: These statements, they infuriate Louisianans. Every time we hear something -- first of all, let me just be blunt. They sound idiotic to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: The governor also had some choice words for the federal government and says he'll have some tough questions when the president makes his third visit to the Gulf Coast Friday. Down on the bottom right hand of your screen you'll see our own meter estimating just how many gallons have been spilled so far.
Based on government estimates it's gushing at the rate of 33 gallons an hour or nine gallons a second. Plenty to talk about with two familiar faces for whom this story is highly personal, CNN contributors Mary Matalin and Donna Brazile, both of whom call Louisiana home.
Mary, I want to bring you in first -- from New Orleans, so many nights we have talked about the frustration, on this night knowing that the pipe has been cut and they're trying to lower the cap, is there finally some hope?
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and we've had hope every morning and by every night, it's what fresh hell is this, which it accounts for a lot of the frustration and the emotion that you're seeing down here. And just to speak to the governor's point, BP should save their money. They're running full-page ads in "The Times Picayune" (ph) every day and these sorts of commercials, which must be costing them a bundle, give it to the fishermen.
Give it to the vessels providers. It really does sound idiotic. Nobody believes a word he's saying. I'm not saying that emotionally, there's just no credibility and the personification of the no credibility is in that man. I say this is as a political person, stand down, Tony.
KING: Well I was going to get to that in a moment. But let's get to it right now. Let me bring in Donna Brazile into the conversation, then we'll get back to this operation because I want to play a little snippet. If anyone has watched TV today, they're spending a lot of money on this. You've probably seen Tony Hayward and this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I think is important to underscore --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our cleanup efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers. To those affected and your families, I'm deeply sorry. The Gulf is home for thousands of BP employees, and we all feel the impact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We can stop it there. You see Tony Hayward saying, I'm sorry. BP clearly is image-conscious right now. Beyond this, our Dana Bash has learned today that those ads were not made on Madison Avenue. They were produced by Purple Strategies (ph). It is a Democratic/Republican firm here in Washington, a political firm. Steve McMahon (ph), a Democrat strategist, worked for Howard Dean a few years back and a Republican familiar to most CNN viewers, Alex Castellanos, one of our contributors, what does it tell you Donna not only that they've decided to spend a lot on TV ads, but they've gone to a political firm?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well as Mary said, take down these ads. Look, this is a full-page color ad. This ad could possibly help somebody down in Louisiana feed their family. It could potentially help people who are on the Gulf now clean it up, who are waiting for their claims to be processed, pay their rent. So I agree with Mary.
Take it down, talk to the local officials, make sure that we have all of the boom that is needed. Make sure that we have supplies to help clean up the pelicans and the birds and others that are coming ashore, drenched with oil. That's what we care about. We don't care about full-page sexy ads.
KING: Well I want to show the viewers, in case you weren't by a television today, I just want to show you some of the critical sequencing that has brought to us the critical moment we're at right now waiting to see if this cap will work. It was early this morning just before 10:00 a.m. that the shears they used -- remember, the saw broke yesterday -- they used the shears to rip off the top of the bent pipe. You see an image of the shear under water there. Remember that's a mile deep under the ocean.
Just a few minutes later, you'll see the pipe breaking apart. Now, that pipe had been bent like an "l" back toward the ocean floor. With the pipe broken off, then a few minutes later, you'll see this. You see images of the leak. And it's a much more robust, straight-up leak. And that is the image we've been seen since that late this morning.
So progress in a sense -- there's a live picture of it right there -- progress in a sense, but again, the outflow now is as much as 20 percent more. As we wait to see if the cap works, we're also waiting to see the reception from the president when he goes down tomorrow. It is his third visit.
And as both of you are well aware, and Mary, you have been part of this. There's been some criticism that the president is not taking charge. His decisions are not being made quick enough. Some have said he's not visible enough. Others have said he's not visceral, emotional enough. Listen to the president talking to Larry King.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The one thing that I think is important to underscore is that I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people. But that's not the job I was hired to do. My job is to solve this problem. And ultimately, this isn't about me and how angry I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mary he will be back tomorrow. We're going to talk in detail in a few minutes about the economic impact. But what is the reception from the president? And what is the biggest concern and question for him?
MATALIN: Well, I'm going to agree with the president. He -- and I've never been one that thinks he should be theatrical or getting out of character. He's a cool, intellectual person. He should use that gift that he has and explain to the country what's going on down here and how it affects the entire country. There are still big holes in this which he could fix.
For instance, if you come forward with a new tool, we're still using 20-year-old tools. (INAUDIBLE) Textile Company, for instance, has a much better absorbent than what's being used. You've got to stand in line behind somebody who has underwear wrapped up in chicken wire so that system for getting new ideas in is completely shut down, it's bureaucratic and lots of problems like that that he could cut through the bureaucracy if he would listen and bring experts with him and follow up on this. I'm not complaining everybody down here really takes him at his word and there has been significant action since he promised that he would deliver. Not enough. And -- but of course, we're a little impatient down here.
KING: There's also a question, Donna, of transparency. This administration, it has a lot on its plate, without a doubt and crises like this are hard to handle, but there's a new report out tonight from the Center on Public Integrity that says on the very first day, the Coast Guard sent in an estimate to the administration saying it could be 8,000 barrels per day of crude oil leaking.
That's on April 21st. The first mention of a leak in the White House official timeline that was released is three days later on April 24th. The questions being raised is, did they have information? And maybe it wasn't shared with the administration. But when they released a public document, saying here's what we know, that key data from the first 24 hours is not there.
BRAZILE: Well, according to White House officials that I talked to, the president conveyed to the folks in the Oval Office within hours of this happening. Within 24 hours he had some line of communication to people down in the Gulf Coast. Admiral Thad -- Admiral Allen has now been put in charge of moving the federal bureaucracy, making sure that the local decisions that need to be made are made at the local level. And that anybody up in the federal government that is stalling, Admiral Allen now is in politics, just move the trains and make sure they run on time.
KING: Donna and Mary are going to stay with us. When we come back we're going to look more closely at the economic impact here and some of the questions that will greet the president. But as we go to break, take a look right there. This is a moment of truth. For the next few hours and throughout this hour we will watch these pictures. BP is lowering the cap that is designed to contain most of the oil flowing out. It's a fascinating undersea operation one mile deep. We will watch with you. Stay with us.
KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight we're going to take a closer look at the economic impact of this spill and one of the huge questions that will greet the president when he gets to the Gulf Coast tomorrow. Mary Matalin is still with us from New Orleans; Donna Brazile with me here in studio.
Let me walk over to the "Magic Wall" because as you know, once the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill happened, the president issued a moratorium. These are deepwater wells off the Louisiana, the Alabama and the Mississippi coasts heading over toward Texas.
If the water is at least 1,000 deep -- feet deep underneath, it's a deepwater well. The president put in place a moratorium, work halted on 33 exploratory wells. Not affected, 4,515 shallow water wells and some other deep water wells that have been active and are deeply in their progression, but again, work halted on 33. Let's move this over if it will come with me here.
We'll take a look at this. This is what the governor of Louisiana has been complaining about, losing 80,000 barrels of oil a day, revenue in the eight million to $16 million range per day, lost wages in the five million to $10 million per day. And in the long run, what Governor Bobby Jindal has said is this moratorium is costing him jobs, costing his state and other states billions in oil revenue, incoming sales tax revenue, highway toll revenues from their workers. And the governor's big concern is that some of these rigs they are so expensive might be taken away. So Governor Jindal sent the president of the United States a letter saying, please, Mr. President, lift that off deep water moratorium and he echoed that message in his news briefing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JINDAL: And what I worry about is an arbitrary deadline or the uncertainty of the moratorium that was already declared. What we're hearing from companies that six months or longer, if they don't know when the moratorium is going to end, they may move this very expensive equipment to other countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mary, the president said in that interview with Larry King today, sorry, but looking at what has happened and being in charge now, what has happened because of this BP still, there's no way he's going to lift that moratorium until he gets a lot more information and a lot more data on -- will the new safety mechanisms be in place?
MATALIN: Right, but nobody is suggesting an arbitrary lifting without looking at them. All these rigs were looked at by this government immediately after the spill, and every one of them was rigorously examined and cleared. Let me tell you what's happening on the ground. You read some very -- what sounds like clear regulations from the Interior Department. What's happening on the ground is all of these riggers are being told, whether it's a new producer or an existing producer, it's old or new, it's deep or it's shallow, it's saying resubmit your permit to comply with rules and regulations being written by a commission that doesn't exist. So what's happening in reality on the ground is an industry shutdown. It's not just the rigs. It's the vessels that service them. It's the vendors that service the vessels which is how you get to the millions of the jobs. What we're asking for is clarity. There's got to be a way to just remove a sixth month -- the sixth month is connected to anything. Why can't the president go rig by rig, have say give some (INAUDIBLE) to the industry and say it's not going to be six months, arbitrarily, capriciously.
We're going to have -- put in place something and it'll free these up as quickly as possible as another case of red tape. Mark my words when he starts understanding what is just donning on people, the ramifications, the far-flung (ph) ramifications to the national economy and the national treasury, he will come up with something. But better sooner than later. Let's get on it.
KING: Do you think it could be an overreach, an understandable initial reaction, but does Mary and the offshore industry have a point that now that we have 45 days passed maybe they should go rig by rig, case by case?
BRAZILE: Let's see 11 people were killed, 20 million gallons spilled, 14 million people possibly impacted in the five Gulf Coast states. And while I understand we need to drill in the deep water, but I also believe that we should put safety first. The president is absolutely right to request an overview to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
And once we're ensured that the right safety procedure is in place, I would hope that the administration has a timetable to allow some of these rigs to go back on line. Look, BP owns two of those rigs, two. They jointly own two more. So before we give people the license, once again, to pollute our water, to soil our wildlife, let's make sure that we're safe.
KING: A contentious issue -- we'll continue to follow it as the president visits the coast. We'll check back in with Mary. We'll check back in with Donna. We thank you both ladies tonight. We'll continue to watch these live pictures of the operation under way. We will keep on top of that and when we come back, the spill's terrible impact on wildlife and the environment. We're going to be joined by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
KING: Looking there, four screens, four live looks at the dramatic undersea operation a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, BP trying to lower in place, finally, the cap that is designed. You see the robot arm there coming down, bringing down the cap, designed to contain most, not all, but most of the oil flow. We are continuing to watch these photos. It is a dramatic hour in the operation. We will track it and we will keep it with you.
Other dramatic pictures today came in and they are heartbreaking. Among the most heartbreaking we've seen from the Louisiana coast and they fed in this afternoon, you see it right there -- oil-drenched pelicans found floating miserably around Grand Tare (ph) Island. Some 25 to 30 have been caught, rescue boats returning hoping to find more.
Joining me from New Orleans now CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta; you'll see part two of his special report "Toxic America" right after our program tonight. And also with us by telephone from New Orleans is "AC 360" anchor Anderson Cooper. Anderson, I want to start it was your crew that was out there and you saw these birds being brought in. It is one of those images that just makes you stop and takes your breath away as we begin to understand the impact on the ecosystem.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (via phone): Yes you know at first, we found these three birds that had just been brought in. They looked like I'm not sure if you're showing those pictures. But you know at first when I saw them it was hard to tell what you're looking at. It just looked like a heap of oil and then you suddenly realize, my God, there are actually living birds in that nest. And you know you get up close to them and they're gasping for breath, their eyes are open. They're kind of looking around.
There's a film of oil even on their eyelids. Some of them seem so stunned they really can barely seem to move at all. The three gulls that we saw who were just completely drenched in oil were basically loaded into a cardboard box and then you know sent out to Ft. Jackson (ph) where they get cleaned. I don't know if those birds can survive. I've never seen birds so immersed in oil. I saw other pelicans that were on rocks that were trying to clean themselves that hadn't yet been -- been brought in.
And it's just -- I mean it's such a sickening sight to see these pelicans trying to clean themselves with their long beaks and kind of spreading out their wings to let the air, try to, you know, dry them off. And of course, the oil doesn't dry off like that. It's a hard thing to see. And it's clearly, you know, one of the iconic images of this disaster.
KING: And Sanjay to borrow the word Anderson just so appropriately used "sickening ", it is a sickening sight for us to see this. So what does it tell us when you see more images like this about pollution to the ecosystem, the wildlife habitat, and also to the water system that so many humans who are live on land are dependent on?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it is absolutely heartbreaking. I saw those images quite a bit today. You know with regard to the water system, specifically, you know, there's lots of different sources of water around here and for the most part, it seems at least this area of southern Louisiana you know does appear to still have clean water.
You have filtration systems that aren't dependent on some of the water close to where Anderson is now. So that's for the time being. Whether that may change over a period of time, whether somehow that water will get contaminated or be unable to be filtrated as well that remains to be seen. But for right now -- I don't want to overstate this, John -- things are OK in terms of the water. KING: Anderson, in terms of the resources. You're out with this crew, trying to rescue these birds. Obviously there are other areas. You're only in one at a time. You can only see one at a time. In terms of the response, we focused so much attention on as the president would say, plugging the damn hole, in terms of helping and trying to save the ecosystem, are there enough resources there?
COOPER: You know, it's hard to tell the big picture. I really -- I don't feel qualified to say. I mean I can tell you in this one area, there were a number of boats that had you know some wildlife experts who were going out trying to bring in some of these birds. They had BP people in them. They were contracted to BP so we weren't allowed to ride along with their boats. We took our own boat out and worked.
You know there are a lot of good people working very hard, I mean from all different aspects. But you know we certainly saw a number of pelicans which needed to be brought in, which were just out on the rocks and hadn't been brought in. So, you know in this area, a number of birds, probably more birds were being brought in than they had brought in a while they said in this area. They said the oil slick seems to be getting worse around Grand Isle, but you know that's I don't -- I can't independently verify that.
It's hard to tell the big picture. But certainly, you go to these spots, and more often than not, you talk to fishermen and they say, look, there's a lot more that could be done. And there are a lot of fishermen who want to work, who want to be part of it and who haven't gotten the call yet from BP.
KING: And Sanjay, again as you look at the images, it is proof that the toll is spreading. The toll is growing. What does the science say about when we will know how long of a problem this is, meaning the lasting impact not only on the birds and the sea and the water supply. But when will we know is this a five-year, 10-year, 25- year, 40-year cleanup effort?
GUPTA: Well you know it's interesting because there is some data that exists from other spills that are similar to this, John, so for example, with regard to the toll on human health it makes sense that the people who are the most exposed are going to have -- be most at risk for human health problems down the road. What I've learned over the past couple of days looking at studies, talking to people who really studied for example, what happened in "Valdez," is that there clearly are people who are going to suffer health problems acutely, meaning now at this time.
But they're going to get better. It's going to go away. What I was surprised by was the number of people who could have much longer health problems, 10 years, 14, even 16 years according to some studies, again some of the same symptoms that people have described, nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, headaches, neurological problems, kidney problems. Those things again continuing on for a long time, so you know people keep using the word "unprecedented" John with regard to the -- to this particular oil disaster. And I think it's a good word. We don't know for sure because there's not something that's been quite like this, but based on previous oil disasters like this, it could last for some time to come.
KING: I want to thank both Sanjay and Anderson for helping us out tonight. And you'll want to stay with CNN throughout the night. Sanjay will be up at the top of the hour with the second installment of his "Toxic America". Anderson of course back at 10:00 with "AC 360" live from the scene of this tragedy, Larry King between them with his exclusive interview with President Obama tonight.
CNN is the place you want to be tonight. And don't leave us because we're continuing to watch these live pictures, a dramatic operation going on right now, BP trying to lower the cap in place to finally contain this devastating spill on day 45 -- when we come back "One-on-One" with the president's top environmental adviser Carol Browner.
ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One".
KING: Carol Browner is President Obama's senior energy and climate adviser, and as such a key point person now as the White House directs the federal response to the tragic Gulf oil spill. She joins me now to go "One-on-One."
Let's start with what is a bit of progress today but it could come as a price. They have sheared the top off the riser. But the predictions were, Carol that it could be as much as a 20 percent more outflow of oil. In the short term, what are the experts saying about how much more oil is coming out?
CAROL BROWNER, WHITE HOUSE ENERGY ADVISER: Well we have our flow team monitoring the situation, they did an independent analysis. It's important that we do an independent analysis because ultimately BP has a financial interest in these numbers. They have to pay a penalty of per barrel per day, a penalty, so we will make sure that as the information becomes available. But it is important to get this oil capped. And so the decision to cut this and to move in place a top hat was one that was -- they've given a lot of very, very thoughtful consideration and on balance everyone thought made sense.
I think the good news is, is that that top hat is now being positioned and should be in place in the next couple of hours as we understand.
KING: And what is the best estimate as to the percentage of the oil that will stop? Will be it 80 percent? Will it be 90 percent? Will it be 60 percent?
BROWNER: Well, what the scientists are telling us -- our scientists, we've got our best scientists down there, Dr. Steven Chu, secretary of energy, a Nobel Prize winner -- is saying it really depends on the fit. The tighter the fit, obviously, the more oil they're going to be able to capture.
And people are obviously hopeful that they can get a tight fit. But you know, we're going to continue to hope for the best but plan for the worst. We've got all of our vessels in place. We're getting the boom out. We're doing the in situ burns, you know, continuing to manage this as it reaches the surface.
KING: The president sat down with Larry King today and he said, you know, I'm furious at this entire situation because this is an example where somebody didn't think through the consequences of their actions.
Clearly, I know the president includes BP in that, the CEO, Tony Hayward, in a startling revelation said yesterday, you know, we didn't have in our tool kit what was necessary should something tragic like this happen.
But what about the government? And what about the administration? This rig was approved during the Obama administration. It was allowed to go forward because it was given, as many of these rigs are, an environmental waiver by the MMS.
Is the president furious at his own administration as well as at BP?
BROWNER: I think the president and we're all very, very upset about this situation. We're upset that there's a law in place that requires MMS or the Department of the Interior to make a decision to issue these permits within 30 days.
We've asked Congress to change that. We want environmental rules on all of this. We want to make sure that every single thing is done to make sure these kind of rigs are safe. We have a pause in place. We've stopped all the drillings on rigs similar to this in the Gulf of Mexico until we have those answers.
We need to know how to make these rigs safe, how to make the drilling safe. And we need to know what we can do in the event there is some sort of horrible accident. We're not going to move forward until we have those answers.
KING: You mentioned the moratorium and among those protesting that, to the surprise of some, is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He says yes, do everything to investigate what happened on the Deepwater Horizon. But he says this moratorium on the deepwater drilling goes too far and is hurting his state.
He says, "During one of the most challenging economic periods in decades, the last thing we need to enact public policies that will certainly destroy thousands of existing jobs while preventing the creation of thousands more."
When the president is back in the gulf on Friday, if the governor says, Mr. President, please lift the moratorium on deepwater exploration, is the president open to that?
BROWNER: We're certainly very mindful of the economic impact on the rig workers. And in fact, we've asked Congress in the legislation we're seeking to make sure that they would be eligible for unemployment. And assurance that bill would be sent to BP. But I think we also need to be mindful of the economic impacts of this accident. The fishermen who aren't working. The resorts that may not be full this summer. And so what we want to do and what we owe the American people and what the president will do is make sure that before we resume drilling in these deep wells in the Gulf of Mexico it is safe. We owe that to the American people.
KING: That's a minute spent there on the economic impact. What about the environmental impact? Obviously, all of our attention, most of your attention is spent on the most urgent priority, capping and then stopping the flow of oil.
But what are you learning? Is this a generational challenge to these sensitive waters? Whether it's the fisheries, whether it's the beaches, whether it's those marshes, all those ecosystems? Are we looking at 25, 30 years of damage or more maybe?
BROWNER: I don't think we know yet. We've got the scientific teams out there. NOAA has three vessels out there right now doing the monitoring, collecting the information.
We need to study, we need to understand this. And, you know, obviously, in the meantime, we need to do everything we can in which we are to keep the oil, you know, out of those marshes, off of those beaches.
KING: When you look at that information coming in, you have a history of studying this. It is a great passion for you. What have you looked at that maybe makes you -- your eyes just jump out the most?
BROWNER: Well, obviously, what's troubling are the number of wildlife that have already been impacted. But again, I'm not a scientist. We need the scientists to look at this information and to help us understand what this is going mean six months from now, 12 months from now, and as you say, maybe five or 10 years from now.
KING: Thirty-seven percent of the Gulf waters are closed at the moment for fishing because of the concerns about the spread of the oil slick. Any sense at all at how long that will be in place and will the ban actually expand before it contracts?
BROWNER: Well yesterday, we did put Florida under a fishery failure notification, and that allows their fisheries to actually receive more resources. You know, NOAA will monitor this. They will make decisions based on the science. It may expand.
But what we want to do is make sure that we're protecting the health of our citizens and that ultimately people continue to believe that when these fisheries reopen that the fish will be safe. We don't want to put anyone in a dangerous situation.
KING: Carol Browner, thanks for your time today.
Next, today's "Most Important Person You Don't Know" is a White House insider who has some jobs to fill. And in the "Play by Play" was Arizona Governor Jan Brewer saying the same things when she came out of the oval office as she was saying before she went in?
KING: Today's "Most Important Person You Don't Know" isn't an actor, but you might say he played the Bill Clinton role in Colorado Senate race.
White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina is the guy who asked Andrew Romanoff if he was maybe interested in a job with the Obama administration. That happened to be just when Romanoff was gearing up to challenge Democratic incumbent senator Michael Bennett.
You also remember this. Bill Clinton sounded out Congressman Joe Sestak along with the same line in Pennsylvania's Senate race. Messina isn't a former president, but he's not small potatoes. Been chief of staff to U.S. senators, Byron Dorgan and Max Baucus, as well as for Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
A stint with the Obama campaign got him a high-up job in the White House. His job now, surviving the glare of Washington spotlight.
So this is another case, Paul Begala, where the White House trying to get people -- trying to clear the field, as we say in politics. Romanoff said he was never offered a job but he did release an e-mail from Jim Messina that just happened to have three jobs and describe in pretty good detail.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right, and so -- this is not even -- this is man bites dog. It's not even dog bites man. It's dog poops on neighbor's yard. OK? It's just not a big deal. You know?
It's maybe a little inconvenient for the Obama White House because they did say that they'd be above and beyond politics.
KING: That's a little inconvenient?
BEGALA: But it's politics 101.
KING: That wasn't --
BEGALA: Not even a little. No, it's less than a little.
KING: Isn't that the central promise of the campaign?
BEGALA: I think he should -- he'll get political attacks for that, and they will be deserved.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, BUSH-CHENEY '04 CAMPAIGN ADVISER: But that's --
BEGALA: This is not a criminal problem.
TRAYNHAM: And that's the central issue here. It's not -- Paul is -- people do this all the time in all White Houses, whether they be Republican or Democrat. The issue here is that the Obama administration promised to be different. They promised to be a different type of a candidate, a different type of White House. And here, and lo and behold, they're just like every other White House.
KING: Well, let --
TRAYNHAM: In this regard.
KING: This might be a little different. Let's move on, guys, and check in on some stories on "My Radar" tonight.
People might thing this show is entertainment tonight. They've started picking a jury today for Chicago's biggest entertainment event of the summer. The corruption trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich.
A couple of top White House aides -- you see them right there -- could be making guest appearances. Senior administration officials confirming to CNN that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and the president's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett have been subpoenaed as witnesses.
If you guys are missing when you're supposed to be here someday, I know you're in the back of the courtroom.
BEGALA: With popcorn --
TRAYNHAM: Exactly -- yes.
BEGALA: Yes, it would be a great show. You do get to wonder. You know if there's a day like this, and President Obama says, why me, lord? I mean you got the North Korean sinking the ship of the South Koreans. He's got the -- the commando raid on the blockade that goes awry in Israel.
He's got this thing spewing out 35 million gallons of oil, and oh, by the way, one of his more bitter political rivals in his home state. You know people think because they're both Democrats -- Blagojevich and Obama -- are allied.
TRAYNHAM: Kim Jong and Blagojevich.
BEGALA: They are -- they've never gotten along. Obama has always been in the reformist wing of my party in that state. Blagojevich not so much a reformer. In fact, Obama didn't even let Blagojevich speak at the convention where Obama was nominated.
So this -- they're not very buddy-buddy anyway. But now it looks like maybe a couple of his aides may have to testify in the trial.
TRAYNHAM: This is like "As the World Turns," I mean, Paul is absolutely right. I mean the president is probably thinking why me? Because he's trying do everything right, but everything bad is happening right now, John. So, look, we're going to sit back and watch this. But sadly, this is how Chicago works. This is -- he will be the second governor and back to back that have -- possibly could be going to jail because of this. So, you know, this is like "As the World Turns."
KING: As we continue the conversation, I want to give our viewers the latest look at these live images. Obviously, that is the cap, right there, that white structure to the left of your screen. That is the cap there trying to be lowered down a mile deep and put on top of the riser.
They sheared the top of the riser this morning. That cap is supposed to go in place on top of it. If it fits snugly, it will contain most, not all, but most of the oil coming out on day 45.
We are nearing the moment of judgment in this crisis. And we are keeping a very close eye on all of these feeds. And of course, as we watch these pictures, this is a key test for President Obama. And I want to come back to our "Radar" conversation, because this is an example of how the results of a poll can depend on how you ask the question. Or maybe it's just that we don't expect all that much of our politicians.
Our new CNN Opinion Research survey asked if Barack Obama is honest and trustworthy. Sixty percent said yes. But when asked -- when we changed the question to this -- is Barack Obama honest and trustworthy enough to be president, 66 percent said yes. A 6 percent increase.
So I -- I trust him is a higher bar to like mind your kids or run the corner store than there is to be president of the United States?
TRAYNHAM: Should there be?
TRAYNHAM: But really, I mean, he's running the country so that's in the process. He's running not only our kids but also our lives. So yes, I mean, it depends on how you asked the question. Is the president honest and trustworthy? There's no question about it that an overall majority of folks say yes. The question is, is whether or not he's competent to run the country.
KING: But so he gets a higher number because people, what, they just expect their politicians to lie?
BEGALA: I think so. It is not just politics, unfortunately. It's business as we're seeing with these sleazebags from BP. It's even sports where, you know, Tiger Woods and all -- I mean it's every -- my holy Roman Church, I'm a Catholic and a faithful one at that. It's disappointed a lot of people.
So in every sector, except God bless U.S. military. In every other sector, we've been disappointed this last couple of years.
So 66 percent, Mr. President, you're doing better than almost anybody else in this business.
KING: All right. Paul and Robert are going to stand by. They're going to stay with us. We're continuing to watch these live pictures under the sea. And up next, you'll hear what Arizona' Governor Jan Brewer told me after her meeting today with President Obama.
KING: A quick look now at "Tomorrow's News Tonight," including some headlines made right here during this program.
Right now, BP is trying to lower the cap that's supposed to bring the oil leak under control. You see those dramatic pictures under water there.
Also tonight, new pictures from CNN's Anderson Cooper and his crew show these oil-soaked birds found today along the Louisiana coast. That is heart-breaking.
This is dramatic. A new computer model forecast the oil spill could get caught up in what's called the loop current and get pulled around Florida then up the East Coast.
In the lower right hand of your screen, our meter counting the amount of oil spilled since this disaster started, 45 days ago, now closing in on 35 million gallons. Some 33,000 more gallons gushed out just during this program.
ANNOUNCER: Here comes the "Play by Play."
KING: In the "Play by Play" tonight, Paul Begala and Robert Traynham still with us. We're going to talk about the somewhat dicey politics of immigration through the eyes of one governor.
Remember Arizona's governor Jan Brewer -- she's the one that signed that controversial new immigration law into place. She's in Washington. Her first stop was right here the other night when I asked her about her plans to meet with President Obama and how much differences they have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: We can't tolerate it any longer. We cannot tolerate it. America can't tolerate it any longer.
KING: And if his answer is, I'm going to do what I announced but your law is misguided and my Justice Department might sue you?
BREWER: I would say, well, we'll meet you in court. I have a pretty good record of winning in court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: From that conversation, it seemed like she was expecting a testy conversation with the president. They had that meeting today in the oval office. The White House released a photo of it there.
When she came out, she talked to reporters at this stake out. And I was lucky, she did one one-on-one interview. That was me, lucky guy. And I asked her, OK, so you guys clearly have differences. The president said he'd send some staff out in two weeks to talk about this. He says they'll get some National Guard troops there soon but not right away.
I asked her if the president seemed to have the same urgency as she had on this big issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREWER: Well, I feel as I left today that I was further ahead than I was before I met with him because I had no answers. He has now told me that I would have information within two weeks, that he would be sending staff out to Arizona to give me the details. So with that, I feel that it was a successful meeting. And I'm encouraged by that.
KING: There are a couple of hundred people on the other side of that gate that way, protesting you, and also championing, Mr. President, don't back down in the meeting with you. They say they're at war. How does that make you feel?
BREWER: Well, I feel very saddened by that because I believe they don't understand what the law says. It's unfortunate. I hope that they have read the bill. But Arizona is not going to put up with illegal trespass into our state. And we're going to put an end to it.
It's already against the law. It's against the law by federal laws, and now it's against the law by state law.
KING: When we talked the other night, you said if they brought you into court, you'd see him in court.
BREWER: I will.
KING: What's different? What is different now after this meeting than coming into the meeting? Obviously you disagree on the fundamentals of the issue. You disagree with the president and on the need for the law in your state. You disagree about a number of issues, about what should be in a comprehensive immigration bill. So what's -- what has changed? Anything?
BREWER: I am very hopeful that he is putting out his hand to help with a solution. And he knows exactly what that solution is, and that is to secure our border, and then we can deal with those other issues.
Now I know that he wants a comprehensive immigration reform plan. I -- you know, I did not agree with that. I said secure our borders and I believe he heard that message loud and clear. And he's sending people out. He's going to send -- he's got resources. And he's going to tell us what that is. All about, in two weeks. And I'm anxiously awaiting that information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So what's the political term for this? They clearly disagree but she was not as testy and she gave the president some credit for hearing her out.
BEGALA: Yes, and she's going into a primary where she's being attacked from the right, believe it or not. I guess it can always get further right in Arizona. But look at the body language here. I love this.
KING: This is the White House photo.
BEGALA: The White House released this. Now, it's not like the old Nixon-Khrushchev debate where he put his fingers under his nose. The president is making a gesture that looks very professorial to me. The hands folded like this, clasped like that in that sort of attitude of prayer, that's a centering device. That's like, I'm controlling myself. I'm not -- I think actually both look really good there.
I don't know if it helps her politically to look good with Barack Obama in a Republican primary, Robert. What do you think?
TRAYNHAM: Well, I think it's a clash of the titans. And you look at the photo. They both look pissed, if I can use that word. They both look like they both have a line in the sand literally and figuratively. These are their positions and they're not going to move from it.
The governor wants her secure border. If you read the Constitution, that is a federal responsibility. Having said that, her belief is that the federal government has failed in that responsibility. So clearly she's taken things in her own hands. Good for her.
KING: I want to quickly get your views on this. I want you guys to play just a snippet of this ad. BP CEO Tony Hayward -- I woke up this morning and turned on the TV, and this is what I saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP: We will honor all legitimate claims and our cleanup efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers. To those affected in your families, I'm deeply sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's stop it right there. BP is on the air, I'm deeply sorry, Tony Hayward says. And we also know that they have hired political consultants here in town. This is called Purple Strategies run by Democrats Steve McMahon, Republican Alex Castellanos, who is a contributor on this network.
They've decided not Madison Avenue, but to go politics here.
BEGALA: Yes, I'm deeply sorry. I'd say on behalf of my profession as a political consultant. Those guys are dear friends of mine. They're great guys, they make great ads.
I don't like seeing this guy on TV. I don't think that he ought to be doing that. I loved hearing both Mary Matalin from the right and Donna Brazile from the left earlier in your program saying that.
The only good news is, maybe this loop current can take all that oil and wash it up on Tony Hayward's front lawn. That's where it belongs. This sleazebag got no business coming on American television and lecturing us or even pretending to apologize to us when he has insulted the men who were killed in this by saying, "I want my life back." He's insulted America by saying well, it's America, of course there'll be frivolous lawsuits.
I mean I -- he's the biggest villain of the year. And maybe the decade.
KING: It's a publicly traded company, though. It is a hard task for them. They do have shareholders to worry about and elect. I'm not defending him but --
TRAYNHAM: Look. Actions speak louder than words. Of course they have -- we all have -- we all have bosses. But the fact of the matter is that the people in the gulf are the people that should really be upset about this.
And for them to go on national television, to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on this ad or tens of millions of dollars, is shameless. The bottom line is they should be spending that money in paying the folks down in the gulf who are going to be losing tens of thousands if not millions of dollars every single day.
KING: Maybe Jan Brewer can get some money and help them build a fence. I don't know.
KING: Robert Traynham, Paul Begala, thanks for coming in and sharing your views with us.
Senate candidates Mark Kirk and Richard Blumenthal got caught exaggerating their military experience. What about you? Ever do a little resume padding here and there? Pete Dominick is investigating. He's on the street. We'll see him next.
KING: Dramatic live pictures there, about a mile beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. We're watching that cap being lowered down to the well riser. You see it there. The cap coming down. BP trying -- trying to cap the well tonight.
Stay with us. We'll track this throughout the hour and throughout the night here on CNN to see if BP can finally, after 45 days, contain the leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Now let's go to our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick. We gave him a big mission tonight. Several politicians have been caught exaggerating -- to be polite -- lately. So Pete went out on the streets to see just how common this is.
PETE DOMINICK, CNN JOHN KING, USA'S OFFBEAT REPORTER: Yes, John King. I wanted to ask people how they felt about these guys, these Senate candidates, lying about their military service and if they've done it again -- if they've ever done themselves. Just to embellish a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said that I worked at my dad's restaurant as a waitress.
DOMINICK: That you worked at your dad's restaurant as a waitress?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I really didn't. And I --
DOMINICK: You didn't?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, I'm -- yes, so I did that.
DOMINICK: What did you do at your dad's restaurant?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was my dad's daughter.
DOMINICK: Are you a god-fearing man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
DOMINICK: Me neither. How come you're so honest?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it works.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Technically.
DOMINICK: Yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the tasks and everything that I say, a half may have done -- may have --
DOMINICK: So all the responsibilities you said you had at a previous job --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
DOMINICK: -- or internship you didn't exactly --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May not all have been -- you know.
DOMINICK: You may not --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It may have been my boss's or my supervisor's task.
DOMINICK: But no one got hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, who knows?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've used selective wordings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lied and said that I had done windows in Macy's.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe a little bit or something.
DOMINICK: Maybe a little of them.
How many years did you say you had but you really had how many?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably three or four.
DOMINICK: You said that you had three or four?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DOMINICK: But you had --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I legally protected from actually answering this?
DOMINICK: You ever lie on a resume, Francisco?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course. That I had a one-year experience at a job.
DOMINICK: And how many years of experience did you have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero. I was in school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's my resume.
DOMINICK: All right. There we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All one huge lie. I'm not an actor. I've never had been in a single production. This is all fabricated right here. Well, I am creative so I like to come up with the best (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I can.
DOMINICK: John King, I told everybody at CNN that I was funny just to get this job.
KING: Yes, you fooled us.
DOMINICK: Embellished. I just embellish, sir.
KING: I've already added to mine, I write all Pete Dominick's lines.
DOMINICK: Wait a second.
KING: It's not true. That's my embellishment, Pete. Thank you, Pete, tonight.
Remember to stay with CNN throughout the night, we're watching this dramatic operation unfold in the Gulf of Mexico. Campbell's off tonight, but "TOXIC AMERICA" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta starts in just a moment. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.