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JOHN KING, USA
Gulf Oil Spill Estimate Twice as Much; Plug the Hole
Aired June 10, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks, Wolf and good evening tonight from Port Fourchon, Louisiana, the epicenter of this state's critical offshore oil and gas industry. Today was the hottest day of the year so far in Louisiana, and by far, the hottest day in the escalating war of words over the response for the BP oil spill. More anger at BP for not moving more quickly to get better equipment to the site of the leak out there and more anger at the White House from Louisiana officials and residents who say the president's moratorium on deep water drilling is adding an economic catastrophe on top of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
You will hear some of that anger in a moment. But of all the anger today, perhaps the greatest anger came late this afternoon, when the disaster doubled, doubled in scope. Are you ready for this? The government revised its estimates, saying the spill is now twice as much as we have been told these past 51-plus days. The old estimate said oil was leaking at a rate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day before that riser pipe was cut. The new estimate puts it at 20,000 to 40,000 barrels a day.
Using the high-end numbers it means the Gulf oil spill is now seven times greater than the "Exxon Valdez." Within the past hour, the government released a letter, this letter right here in which Admiral Thad Allen orders all of BP's top officials to come to Washington next week for a summit, on Wednesday, meetings Thad Allen says will include, at least in part, President Obama. And as I said, the people here in Louisiana are already angry, especially at that moratorium. Consider this from a conversation I had earlier today with the governor, Bobby Jindal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: You know, the White House said, well, these folks can go file for unemployment, they can go ask BP for a check. Our people don't want unemployment; they don't want a check from BP. They want to go back to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And remember this image, the president touring the devastation last week with Lafourche County President Charlotte Randolph (ph). Well tonight she told me she feels used.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLOTTE RANDOLPH, LAFOURCHE PARISH PRES.: Mr. President, you were looking for someone's butt to kick, you're kicking ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Here's another image worth noting this one a bit graphic, oil is the lifeblood of this community here. And even as they deal with the muck hitting their beaches and endangering their seafood industry, residents here are seething at a White House, at a president, whose drilling moratorium they see as arbitrary and choking their way of life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER DEWEY, OIL PORT SERVICES: So, Mr. President, please, I beg you, you need to, at least one month, not six months, two (ph) months, six months is too long for us, we will starve here.
NORBY CHABERT, LOUISIANA STATE SENATE: It is going to hurt hard- working, middle-class Americans. And this administration swore they were going to protect and help and save.
LT. GOV. SCOTT ANGELLE, LOUISIANA: But this is not about the stockholders of BP and Exxon and Shell and Chevron. This is about the charamese (ph) and the colleagues (ph) and the Boudreaux (ph) and the Thibodaux (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A lot of spill-related action in Washington to talk about tonight as well, including more complaints about the federal response, more questions about the long-term impact on wildlife and the waters from those chemicals BP is using to disperse some of the oil. And a solemn moment at the White House as well today, a private meeting between the president and family members of some of the 11 workers killed when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and this catastrophe began 52 days ago.
Let's talk it over now with two CNN contributors for whom this is highly personal, James Carville and Mary Matalin join us from their hometown of New Orleans. James and Mary, I want to start with this stunner this afternoon. As if it wasn't bad enough in the waters off your beautiful state the government now says twice as much, twice as much, seven times the "Exxon Valdez," into the waters. How did it feel to hear that latest dramatic increase in the estimate?
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, every time we come on, we say the same thing, what fresh hell is this? But we also know from records uncovered by the "Rolling Stone" of all places, that the administration knew within 24 hours from their task force on the flow that it wasn't 5,000 barrels, it was somewhere between 60-plus and possibly 100,000 barrels, three "Exxon Valdez's" per week. We you -- are going to have another slapping BP around. But the government was more than well aware of the rate of this flow from the very beginning. So we have to look at everybody when we look to getting to a solution here, because we cannot come to a solution until we know how much is really coming out of there. JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well as I understand it first of all, you know they are going to ramp this up. I mean I don't believe this for a minute, just like I don't believe for a minute what BP says. They have no credibility at all. I don't believe that they're going to have the relief well (ph) drilled by August and I don't believe anybody else (INAUDIBLE) believes that either, so they need to quit using that.
Look the scientists said they can get a more accurate (INAUDIBLE) if BP would let them get instruments down at the rupture site. Well my point is take a Navy cruiser, put it over there and go and get the thing. Why are we paying attention to them? Just go get it. Whatever you got to do we are being invaded here and we are not asking permission. Tell them to sue the government and then they can all settle with the Justice Department at some point.
CARVILLE: Tell us what is coming on here. We are being invaded by this (INAUDIBLE).
MATALIN: And to Thad Allen's -- in his defense, I mean, he said that, he said that weeks ago. We are being invaded. It's coming ashore. We haven't had a catastrophe on our shores like this since 9/11. We should treat it as such with the urgency and the resources. You know there are 13 countries within a week or so offered the kind of expertise they have. The Dutch, which we went to the Netherlands, they have all sorts of equipment that just -- does just this. And because of a law on the books, we can't break through the bureaucracy to get equipment here to accelerate the cleanup and the containment?
CARVILLE: John, they are saying that they couldn't get them because there's a law on the books --
CARVILLE: The Congress went in at 1:30 in the morning over Terri Schiavo (ph). Bring them to Washington. It is just a stupid law. Change it. We are being invaded. Don't tell us that the law says you can't have a foreign vessel out there. Congress can change it. Have the president bring them in. If a bunch of right-wing preachers got the Congress in at 1:30 in the morning over Terri Schiavo (ph) we can sure get the Congress back in to deal with this catastrophe, this war that we're fighting against this oil out here.
MATALIN: Which by the way, they previously did -- chair talk (ph) lifted or waived the Jones Act (ph) during Katrina to get foreign vessels in.
KING: Let me ask you about this letter the White House just released, Thad Allen telling the BP top brass, come to Washington next week for a meeting and the president will be at part of this meeting. You both know one of the criticisms of the president has been as he leads the response to the biggest environmental disaster in the country's history, not once has he picked up the phone and talked to a top BP official. Now, he apparently wants to be across the table from them -- James, too little too late or the right move for the president right now?
CARVILLE: I don't know. I hope it's a right move. And I have never been one (INAUDIBLE) well he needs to promote more and I don't know. You know, yes, the point is, is that the government is there to protect us. They need to take complete charge of this. We don't need to ask BP to do anything other than write checks and get the best expertise they can to capture as much oil as they can and get that relief well built as fast as they can. But right now, the president needs to take command of everything away from the rupture site.
MATALIN: And he also has to listen to, because you heard Billy Nungesser (ph) and you talked to the governor again today, Obama does deliverer within the 24-hour span what he says he is going to and then it all just sort of fades away. Give the locals what they need. Bobby was out there yesterday with his Hoover vacuum cleaner. I mean come on this is crazy, building own sand berms? Just give them what they need. This is not like the guys on the ground don't know how to get this done or where to go to get it done, they need the resources. They will do it themselves. They want to work and get it done and they can. Give it to them.
KING: And James, I want to ask you, the question of presidential leadership in a moment, I want to talk about the economic impact on the state, but since we're talking about the president, Fareed Zakaria, who writes for "Newsweek". He obviously hosts a program on this network, CNN, he has been harshly critical in a very different way of the administration, suggesting it is overreacting to the BP oil spill and oversensitive to some of the criticism.
Fareed writes this "What worries me is that we have gotten to the point where we expect the president to somehow magically solve every problem in the world, appear to be doing it and to reflect our anger and emotion. This is a kind of bizarre trivializing of the presidency into some kind of national psychiatrist-in-chief." And Fareed goes on James to say that you know there are some big challenges out there Asia, Europe, Iran and the world and the president perhaps has been distracted by this oil spill.
CARVILLE: Yes, he talked about an offensive line back. And when I read that I wanted to hit him with a football bat, OK? This guy, there's some kind of a breakdown here, because this is a very smart man. And I don't think that he understands exactly what is going on down here. I don't think he understands that an entire culture is at risk, an entire way of life that there is an invasion going here and he is whining about the fact that the president had to cancel a trip to Indonesia to do something about what's going on in Louisiana.
Look, Indonesia's an important country and we've got to deal with it, but last time I checked Louisiana is part here and we want our own shrimp. We don't want to eat Indonesian shrimp. I mean you know and I just think people like that are -- live in a world -- if that thing was in Long Island Sound (ph) I guarantee you Fareed Zakaria and all his friends would be going nuts out there, so my point is, is Fareed, come down here, I will show you the multicultural tapestry that is the coastal people of Louisiana. You talking about somebody -- you're talking about Croatians; you are talking about Filipinos, Vietnamese, French. You are talking about all kinds of different people (INAUDIBLE) people from the Canary Islands. This is a wonderful, beautiful culture down here that is under assault. And the idea that somehow or another we are demanding too much of the president's time (INAUDIBLE) I just think that that -- it is a shame that he doesn't understand what's going on here. He doesn't understand the issues of coastal loss that we have had here that we are losing land (INAUDIBLE) Manhattan and I think a lot of these people just want us to take our oil, take our resources and for us to shut up and we are not shutting up this time --
MATALIN: John, can I use -- can I use his column for a teaching moment, because he does what is a common mistake. He is conflating the government's inability to plug the damn hole -- it is true. They do not have the resources, but then he conflates and it has -- it's a factual error in there -- says that it is not the government's responsibility. It is federal law, the law -- federal waters it is a federal law, the feds are absolutely -- it is obligated morally and legally to do the containment and the cleanup. Do not conflate those two things and that's what he does --
CARVILLE: And this guy has got a PhD and you got to --
KING: Quick timeout.
CARVILLE: -- make the distinction as we always do here between the rupture site and what's going on, on the shore.
KING: Quick timeout -- James and Mary are going to stay with us. We will be back in just a minute. They are in New Orleans; I'm in Port Fourchon. This is the epicenter of this state's offshore oil and gas industry. The governor came here today and he was white hot. He thinks the president's deep water moratorium is adding a huge economic injury to this state on top of the environmental impact. James and Mary weigh in on that when we come back in just a moment.
KING: We're live tonight in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, and these images you see are telling. This port services the deep water drilling industry. It is usually a traffic jam this time of night, now it is a parking lot. That is because of the moratorium the president put in place banning deep-water drilling operations. All these ships that usually service the big rigs like the Deepwater Horizon in the waters off this state sitting here idle tonight in this port.
Let's continue our conversation with James Carville and Mary Matalin on that very point. James and Mary, your governor has been arguing that on top of the environmental catastrophe, the president's moratorium creates an economic disaster for this state. He was here today. He was white hot. He did an event with local officials surrounded by 150 or so oil workers. After I had a conversation with him in which he made clear his anger at the White House is growing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JINDAL: Let's not punish the good with the bad. You've got thousands of Louisianans worried about how do they pay their mortgage bills? How do they pay their utility bills? How do they pay their grocery bills?
KING: Do you think he just doesn't get it?
JINDAL: There are two things. One I don't think there's a real understanding of the way this industry works. You know we heard from the president last week, the White House again today, well the rigs will just come back. That is not the way this works.
Look they understand the need for a pause. They understand if MMS wasn't doing their jobs to reorganize to fix MMS, but our bottom line message is that the fact that the federal government isn't doing their job shouldn't cost thousands of Louisianans our jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mary, he said he talked to the president again today, Valerie Jarrett (ph) again today -- he talked to the president just last week. He says every time he asks the White House, they say they will think about this, but as of yet they have not done anything. The White House will not yield here.
MATALIN: You know Valerie Jarrett (ph) in some circles is considered higher than Rahm Emanuel. She's got a big spot there and I'm told that the conversation with her, she said the oil will still be there in six months, the rigs will come back, showing a really deep ignorance of how this works. These rigs, when they leave they go to -- they'll go to Africa, they will go to Brazil, and they don't go for six months. They don't come back.
And then there is the multiplier of the vessels that service them and the tens of thousands of vendors that service the vessels. The interior's own report said it would be 150,000 direct jobs. That's not with the multipliers. So, there is -- that's what the frustration is. Bobby is not a white-hot kind of guy, but he gets talking points from the highest ranking person and closest friend to the president that it shows complete ignorance of how this industry works and the impact that the moratorium would have.
CARVILLE: Look I --
KING: James --
KING: James -- James, hold on one sec. Hold on one sec. James, hold on one sec for me because before you jump in I want to you also listen to Charlotte Randolph. She is the parish president here in Lafourche Parish right down here where this port is. She was in all the pictures with the president last week out on Grand Isle (ph) when he was out there to impact the damage. Her picture was shown around the world. She told me today that she feels used.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDOLPH: The other morning I heard him say he was looking for some butt to kick. What he doesn't realize is that he really is kicking our butt right now.
KING: You were in all the pictures the other day when the president was here, and you were out walking, assessing some of the damage. Do you regret that in any way? Do --
RANDOLPH: No, I don't. No, I don't. I think he has an agenda. And this is certainly working into his agenda. Right now, we are the poster children for alternative energy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: James, she is angry, the governor is angry, just about every local official and resident we find on this end of the state is very angry at the president.
CARVILLE: And let me give a solution. There's a -- we need to get something right for any number of reasons. Our people in Louisiana need a job. The country needs oil. This can be operated safely. There is a guy, Professor Robert Beet (ph), the University of California-Berkeley that is the smartest guy in this and he is a man of fierce integrity and he is trusted here.
Have Professor Beet (ph) and the CEO of the company operating the rig go out to the rig and certify that it is safe and it is ready to operate and its safety comes first. If that certification, I would let my children spend the night on that rig, so let's get a solution. You know in one sense you can't blame them for having a pause. This is not irrational, but let's offer a solution (INAUDIBLE) this CEO certification, along with the most prestigious engineering scholar in the United States and let's get this thing back up and running again.
MATALIN: By the way, he was one of the scientists that the Interior Department suggested agreed with this moratorium. And as you know, those scientists, we did not, and they took great umbrage at that, so they have offered solutions. That is another part of their frustration it is like the berms, it is like the vacuum ships, the skimmers, the boom, all of it. They have offered it rig by rig, safety inspection, re-inspection the Interior did it right the spill and they get this, well it will come back in six months. That is the source of the frustration --
CARVILLE: There is a solution there --
KING: James and Mary will be back with us --
CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) take personal liability.
KING: James and Mary will be back with us a bit later. As we continue covering the breaking news tonight, a new estimate of the amount of oil spewed into that Gulf more than doubled tonight.
Also ahead in the program we'll go "Wall-to-Wall" to look at a question troubling a lot of people. What's worse the dispersants BP is using to try to break up the oil or the oil itself?
Then we'll go "One-on-One" with Bill Nye (ph) "The Science Guy". A lot of people are sending us ideas right now about how to stop the oil leak. We'll see if any of them might possibly work.
Today's most important person you don't know has been called BP's ice man, can he keep his job from melting?
And in "Play-by-Play" former President George W. Bush's first posting on Facebook and Billy-isms; we started collecting the most colorful and most provocative sayings of Louisiana's Billy Nungesser (ph).
KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight a closer look at an issue that is being raised here in the fishing communities of Louisiana and also comes up around the country and was the focus of a lot of attention back in Washington today. What impact will all those chemical dispersants BP is using in the waters out there to break up the oil, what impact will they have on the ecosystems, now and for years come? A top Louisiana environmental official was before Congress today and he said we may not know the answer for years and years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT J. BARHAM, LOUISIANA DEPT. OF WILDLIFE & FISHERIES: How long we're going to be assessing this, it will probably be decades because you will have to do constant analysis and what we fear is that there is some link in the food chain that will be destroyed by these sub-sea dispersants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So exactly what we talking about, BP says it has used more than 1.1 million gallons of dispersants so far, 800,000 gallons literally sprinkled right on top of the water to break up the oil, another 358,000 gallons put under water again to break up the oil traveling under water. Just how do these work? Well the dispersants have molecules that attract water and oil. Those molecules surround the oil and they create tiny particles from the larger oil slick.
They are then digested by ocean bacteria and eventually, eventually they degrade, it breaks down the oil and degrades it before it gets to shore. What are the benefits? Well it breaks down the oil and it keeps the thicker, more toxic muck from reaching shore and getting into the marshes and the ecosystems. What are the drawbacks though? The drawbacks are they're potentially toxic. They affect the microbes under the water that are so critical to the lifecycle, the food chain in the water. They look like food so many animals in the sea, many birds think they are food, come down and scoop up the toxic chemicals and they move with random ocean current. So what starts here in the Gulf of Mexico could end up around the tip of Florida, perhaps even out in the Atlantic Ocean. This is one of the issues I discussed with the Coast Guard's point man here in Louisiana, as we flew over the spill yesterday. And he said the Coast Guard has a number of people on hand trying to make that very assessment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. ROGER LAFERRIERE, U.S. COAST GUARD: We have that same concern and that's why we marshaled a huge sampling effort. We have got 14 to 17 research vessels at any one time that are out here and of course we are working with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, where we have with the best scientists in the world also studying this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A question we will keep asking in the days, weeks, months and perhaps years ahead.
Up next, we are live still from the Gulf and the always entertaining Bill Nye "The Science Guy" joins us for some ideas for plugging the hole.
ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One".
KING: We are live tonight on the docks of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. This is the epicenter, this port services the offshore drilling, the oil and gas industry so critical to the Louisiana economy. You see these ships behind me; they are parked here tonight because of the moratorium offshore, part of the political controversy after this environmental catastrophe. Fifty-two days since the spill and while nothing has worked so far to plug the hole, there are plenty of ideas coming in on just how to fix it.
So who better to go over some of them other than Bill Nye "The Science Guy", he is joining us tonight from Washington. Bill, I want to get to the ideas in a minute. But first, what goes through your mind when you hear this dramatic increase, the breaking news tonight that they have more than doubled the estimate of the amount of oil coming out and gushing in to the Gulf of Mexico, 20,000 to 40,000. That's 1.7 million gallons per day. Previously, it was in the 12,000 to 19,000 range. How much bigger of an impact are we talking about now that we have that estimate?
BILL NYE, "THE SCIENCE GUY": Well I think there's going to be two things; first of all there's going to be a lot more oil on the surface but the other subtle thing, there's going to be a lot more oil between the sea floor and the surface. And this oil is very hard to find. Nobody's really sure what effect it is going to have on the environment. But intuitively it sounds bad.
I have to say when that professor from the University of -- from Purdue calculated 70,000, it seemed to me he was really working much closer to the right answer than 19,000. So, I'm not surprised to find it come out about 40, halfway between 20 and 70. It is not surprising to me at all.
KING: And so, it only adds urgency to the question why can't they fully cap this thing. They have contained some of the oil but still a great deal coming out. We don't even know if we can trust those numbers. Among the suggestions that come in, they say well why can't you just pour cement down there and plug this thing? Help us.
BILL NYE: Well I've gotten about 1,000 e-mails on my website. I'm sure you have gotten probably 30,000. So let me just show you the problem. If indeed coming out of the riser -- the preventer, the top of the oil well, if it's really almost 7,000 psi and you were going to put a piece of concrete on it -- this from the streets of Washington, D.C.
At first, it seems pretty heavy, but when you drop it on top, even concrete is buoyant. So you would need about 2,500 tons of to concrete. And you might be able to do that if you had a lot of it. But even then when you pile it all on top, it's displacing water. And when you displace water, it holds the concrete up.
So you need about the weight of 50 commercial airliners on top of this thing. And by the way, it's blowing oil the whole time. It will literally push the concrete or whatever it is out of the way and if it does, you're right back where you started with the thing gushing and leaking and you haven't achieved anything. And now you have a big block of concrete when between you and the problem.
KING: And Bill, help us understand, because as you make that demonstration, I have talked to several engineers down here in the industry who are not involved in this effort but they know the industry very well. To the point you just made, the say the reason they abandoned top kill was when they were trying to put the cap on it then, the pressure got so high that not only were they worried that the top would blow off, but just beneath that bop in the wellhead --
NYE: Blowout preventer.
KING: They think the pressure was under the surface -- yes, the blowout preventer --
NYE: So --
KING: They thought the pressure was building up below the surface and they could have had a bigger catastrophe.
NYE: Yes, exactly. So whatever the blowout -- I will use my hands. Here is the pipe running down into the earth's crust. Whatever you put on top is somehow attached to that pipe. Well, if you seal what's on top of that it could lift the whole thing up. Well if you seal what's on top of that, it could lift the whole thing up. In other words, you start pulling well casing out of the seafloor and then you've got no control over it. You get seeps coming out along the seafloor like rain leaking through a canvas tarp.
KING: And so Bill, at this point as you watch this come out, when BP says they have a backup plan, they're bringing in another container ship to take the oil away, are they doing the right things or doing just what is necessary, not what would be better?
NYE: Boy, I'm not sure. The whole thing here is you've got to do everything all at once. Now, I just tried to give you a perception of this. I think at first the satellite data indicated that there were about 5,000 barrels a day leaking. But there was all this oil that was missing that became neutrally buoyant or didn't sink or float between the sea surface and the seafloor. So the flow is actually much higher and the pressure was much higher than was originally estimated.
And so when they put that containment dome on it -- that white house thing -- that weighed about 100 tons. Well, you need about 25 times that much just to contain the pressure let alone all the plumbing problems -- the bolts and nuts and the sensors and side vents.
So the real answer -- and you have heard people say this 100 times -- is this business of a relief well, where you drill in down below where all your plumbing problems are and start the well over again this time under control. And this had will be the problem with the moratorium.
Nobody is sure, I don't think, how many other blowout preventers have the same maintenance problems and could lead to the same sort of disaster. So instead of having one gushing, you'd have two or three. It could really be serious, serious problem. This is why people in my side of things would really like us to pursue renewable energy. This is a dangerous business down there.
KING: Bill Nye, The Science Guy, we appreciate your insights, and to Bill's point about the relief wells, still the middle of August -- they say middle of August. But if there's two of them being drilled, the first one should be ready in the middle of August. We will continue to watch that. After the break, just who's in charge of BP? Why haven't we ever seen him? It is our most important person you don't know.
KING: With oil still spewing and BP's stock price about half of what it was before the oil rig explosion, we are seeing more and more calls for the resignation of today's "Most Important Person You Don't Know." He is BP's Chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg. He has had the job only since January. Before that, Svanberg from Sweden, was the CEO of Erickson, the Swedish telecommunications giant.
When his appointment was announced last year, "The Times" of London described him as "an ice man. Built like a paratrooper." Svanberg has managed to keep a lower profile even though BP is taking so much heat. But maybe not for too much longer. Today, Admiral Thad Allen sent Svanberg a letter asking that he and other appropriate officials from BP come to Washington for a summit next Wednesday. The meetings will include, at least partly for a while, President Obama.
Let's bring James Carville and Mary Matalin back into the conversation. It is interesting, we have heard a lot about Tony Hayward. We've heard a lot about Doug Suttles, the two guys the face on the ground here in Louisiana, but the chairman, Mr. Svanberg, his name has escaped the headlines until now.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes, why should it? Why shouldn't there be responsibility? You can't have something of this magnitude and not have people take responsibility. You cannot have something of this magnitude without people losing their jobs.
I mean we appropriately expect like people and teachers and farmers and police and people like that, if they do something wrong they get fired. We want to see that that. That's what we should do. We tell children they are responsible for what they do. What do you tell children when you have the chairman of BP or you have the CEO, you have people that are responsible, they're still in their jobs? It's ridiculous.
Just like you have people at the MMS that were kept over. Somebody has to get fired. Heads have to roll. People have to know that this is being taken seriously.
MATALIN: Yes, the government --
KING: If you have one question, Mary what would it be?
MATALIN: If I had one question, I'd say everybody, we're going to have to engage in an enterprise this risky -- which we do because we have to have hydrocarbons. Our energy needs have not diminished. That does not mean we can't pursue alternatives and renewables and sustainables and all the rest of this concurrently.
But we have to continue this enterprise, which means the government has to have -- not keep the same regulators in place that Obama ran against and then when he appointed Ken Salazar, he said there is a new sheriff in town and the sheriff keep the same bumbling morons that the IG's report revealed in the first place. So there is a reason politically why Americans have no trust in any institutions anymore.
CARVILLE: I'm not particular complimentary of the Secretary of the Interior, he did so do something, but it wasn't enough. Look, let me tell you, the President's administration, they can get this thing back if --
MATALIN: Let him go.
CARVILLE: Go ahead, John.
KING: Well, I was going to say let's stick on oil now as which continue to look on some stories on my radar tonight. You're talking about the president. One person we don't know, but we expect would be at that meeting but he's not named in the letter is the BP CEO Tony Hayward.
And there's been a lot of speculation that the company could be headed for bankruptcy and a lot of controversy as the company plans to pay a big dividend to its stockholders. We haven't heard from Tony Hayward much lately, but he did tweet today, and he tweeted this right around noon:
"BP has the capacity to deal with the cost of the Gulf response, legitimate claims and environmental remediation. Tony." James and Mary, what he is trying to do is assure financial markets that the company will survive because the stock has tanked it is about half its value now.
CARVILLE: We want the company to survive. Please survive. Please rack up the profits. We need this cow back because we need to pluck this thing for everything its got. So I don't want -- don't not -- no, no, no don't run the stock. Keep it nice and plump so we can milk this puppy to get what we deserve back.
You know, we are hearing stuff -- this is very encouraging that the administration is going to force BP to do something about our coastal restoration in addition to doing it. Boy, if they do this and they get up in here, then I will be right behind them on that so no, no please don't go bankrupt. Don't run on the stock price. Don't do nothing like that.
MATALIN: One of the knee-jerk things the administration said was that they would add to the cost to BP the loss of jobs because of an ill thought out moratorium, which we discussed earlier. BP is going to have plenty of expenses, just to close it -- plugging the damn hole, remediating and restoring the coast.
We don't need to add to that burden, because if they go bankrupt -- which some experts in the industry are suggesting is possible -- that doesn't help anybody. It certainly doesn't help us here and it doesn't help the president.
CARVILLE: We are not -- we are not for that.
KING: You mentioned the moratorium. Right.
CARVILLE: Go ahead.
KING: You want that -- I like that reference, you want the cow fat. I will remember that line, James, I promise you. Let's stay on the moratorium for a minute because earlier, we had the governor sharply critical of the administration.
To be fair to the White House, Robert Gibbs at the white house briefing today explained why the president think it is critical to keep the deepwater moratorium in place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president understands that this is not without some economic -- not at some -- this has economic cost. But at the same time, without knowing exactly what happened, I think the president thought it would not be responsible to continue on a path that might cause -- without knowing the cost of the previous accident -- might cause something else to happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A lot of people, guys, see some logic in that. And adding in the fact that if there aren't enough Coast Guard ships out there now, if there are not enough resources to deal with the catastrophe, why would you risk another one at a time the fire department, if you will, is pretty busy?
CARVILLE: That's not an unreasonable point and my point is that we now know there were bad engineering practices out there. They were placing profits ahead of safety and I'm saying that there is a solution. You know, everybody has got to take responsibility here.
And these CEOS of these companies, they need to accept personal responsibility. And I tell you what, the CEO knows he is personally on the hook for this, then that company, you are going to see real safety and to be fair to these other oil companies, I read that BP last year had 700 violations. The total of the other companies was one.
So, I mean, some of these people are instituting safe practices, not every be in there was not and we need the CEO and Professor Bee to do this and get these rigs high balling again in a safe way.
MATALIN: You know, when the federal government wants to do something and there's an urgency to it, they can get it done quickly. They need to go in there and it was not illogical to go back to the rigs and ensure that the blowout preventers were functioning; that there were redundancies for shutting the systems down. They did that.
Apparently that wasn't a good enough political cure. But now they can go back in again and what they don't understand at the White House apparently is you don't just say I'm only going to shut down deep water. The execution of it on the ground, because it's so confusing and the instructions going through the bureaucracy change every hour that everything just shut down.
It just shut down. And you can't make them understand that there's no way to execute this capricious and arbitrary six-month moratorium based on new safety rules to be written by a commission that isn't seated yes. I mean, listen to what I just said. Does that make sense to anybody above kindergarten? No.
KING: You guys hang on just one second. More to come with James and Mary. Last night, we showed you images of devastation from around the Gulf region captured by our CNN cameras. Here is look at more of these dramatic pictures.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: For those of you just joining us, we are in the big port city of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, tonight, critical to this state's offshore oil industry. Here is what you need know right now. The government this afternoon dramatically increased -- doubled its estimate of how much oil has leaked into the Gulf of Mexico.
Using the high end numbers it mean the Gulf oil spill is now seven times greater than the "Exxon Valdez." BP issued a statement saying it fully supports the government's effort, and is providing the scientific team with all the data.
Admiral Thad Allen has asked BP's top officials to attend a summit next Wednesday in Washington. President Obama will take part.
Back for the play-by-play tonight. You get the drill. We have the day's best tape, and we break it down with our experts. We're lucky tonight that James Carville and Mary Matalin are with us throughout the program. You guys know very well Billy Nungesser. He's the president of Plaquemines Parish, not too far away from New Orleans.
He's a guy who is a very, very colorful speaker. He's also somebody who is red hot at the moment about the federal response. He said today that he spends more time fighting BP and the Coast Guard than he does cleaning up the oil. Dana Bash had a brief interview with him after his testimony. I want you to listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY NUNGESSER, PRESDIENT, PLAQUEMINES PARISH: The fact that I got to beg for four vacuum equipments to get the gook out of the marsh by the pelicans so they don't die every day is criminal. They should be knocking me down to get everything they can out there to clean it up. It's crazy. The right purchase orders and turn them in. I got to go through the chain of command.
DANA NASH, CNN REPORTER: So the red tape is still there?
NUNGESSER: Still there.
NASH: And still thick?
NUNGESSER: Still there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So James and Mary, these guys are going up to Washington. They're complaing when they're down here. He is the among the most colorful shall we say of the parish leaders who are in the middle of this argument.
CARVILLE: We don't lack for colorful people down here. Billy's heart is -- he really works hard and his people are really getting -- Plaquemines Parish is probably hurt more than St. Bernard, who knows. A lot of parishes are hurt by this, and he's vocal and he's out there and he's trying to do something. He's a good friend. He's supported a lot of things that Mary and I have done. He's a big republican. He actually supported a fundraiser I did that was sent to Barbara Boxer. So he's a guy that just wants to get the job done.
MATALIN: Because she was helpful --
MATALIN: -- on the coast. But Billy is emblematic of another kind of frustration here. These guys -- these parish presidents, people -- as the governor said earlier, people don't want food stamps. They don't want unemployment checks. They don't want BP checks.
They want their life. They want their work, and they come to him and they're crying. And that's not even including those who have lost family members. And these presidents are close to the people.
CARVILLE: John, there's a -- people need to understand it's really different down here, and it's different when we're going through this. Today it was announced that PJ Oyster Company, which has been in business here for 130-something years was closed.
You have no idea the emotional attachment that that means, the cultural significance of this event, what it means to life here in south Louisiana. I'm afraid we're going to see more and more of this, and I'm afraid a lot of people don't understand the depth of what's going on here. I really don't. It's a horrific thing in terms of that.
KING: When I was driving down to the port today we saw a protest about the deepwater moratorium and we saw a sign as part of that protest, Jindal for president. I took a little picture of it and I put it up on twitter. And then when I had an interview with the governor -- you see the scene right there. When I had an interview with the governor here in Port Fourchon, I asked him about it and gave him a little peek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're driving down this morning.
BOBBY JINDAL, GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA: No. I've got my hands full down here. We have to protect our state. We have plenty of work to do in Louisiana.
KING: You're in the national news every day now, like it or not. I assume you like part of it and don't like part of it. How does it affect what you do?
JINDAL: National news doesn't bother me at all. What bothers me is when I talk to a young man out there that says how am I going to pay my grocery bill next week?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Quickly, guys, but he's getting is a lot of national attention these days.
CARVILLE: You know what I think is going to happen? I think next week the administration is really going to do something. I think they're going to drop the hammer on BP. I think they're going to do something about cleaning this up, our coastline. And that's the kind of thing that President Obama will get reelected in 2012. I'll be so enthusiastic for him you won't believe it. But right now the response has not been what it needs to be, and I can understand that.
MATALIN: John, if God came down and said to Bobby, I guarantee you you can be president tomorrow or I will give you what you need to clean this up, he would take the latter.
KING: James and Mary, appreciate your time tonight and your patience with us. We'll see you a bit later. When we come back, Pete on the street. You don't want to miss it.
KING: Coming up next, a CNN Special Report the Atlanta child murders. Here's Soledad O'Brien with a preview.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, tonight on CNN we take a look back at a case that terrified folks in the city of Atlanta and around the nation as well. Back in the summer of 1979 through the early '80s the Atlanta child murders.
Eventually the FBI would focus in on one man, Wayne Williams, a sometimes record producer. We'll tell you in our documentary tonight a look at all the evidence in the case, the failed polygraphs, Wayne Williams, what he did on the stand that may have sealed his fate and we'll also talk and take a close look at the fiber evidence, why it was so critical in the case.
And you can weigh in online as well. We hope to see you tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern tonight on CNN for my documentary, Wayne Williams, The Atlanta Child Murders. That's 8 p.m. Right after your show, John.
KING: Down in these parts, the shrimp industry is a billion dollar business. Where I am in Port Fourchon, a lot of the commercial fishermen come ashore right here to the docks to sell their products. We asked our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick to head out on to the street to see what happens to the shrimp when they come off the boat.
PETE DOMINICK, CNN REPORTER: Hey John King. Still in New Orleans. I went over to Lafitte, Louisiana to find out how shrimp is made. A lot of people don't want to know how sausage is made. Well you might not want to know how shrimp is processed either. Let's take a look. I'm here with Paul and you're the plant own officer.
Oh, yeah, it gives the shrimp a bath. Pop. This is a brown shrimp. I think it came from Texas and I'm going to eat him. I'm in the shrimping plant here. This is everything that's not a shrimp. If it's not a shrimp, it doesn't make it in, right? Can I touch it? That's a flounder. I love John King. Hey, Paul, I'm not sleeping. PAUL: You want me to cook him for you?
DOMINICK: You cook him up for me? So this is a peeling machine. And the shrimp comes through and it mashes them?
PAUL: 1,000 pounds.
DOMINICK: 1,000 pounds of shrimp an hour. Your hands are too beautiful for this. How do you keep your hands so nice? Do you need a massage or anything? Feels good? I'm moving too slow. All right. I'm done. My back. Yeah, okay. Okay. All right, Paul. All right. Hey, Paul. Hey, hey, Paul. Let me out of here. It's freezing. OK seriously let me out.
KING: Dinner time. Dinner time. Well that's all for us tonight. We'd like to thank you for watching. We'd also like to thank Edison Truess (ph) for allowing us to broadcast from their operations right here in Port Fourchon.
Up next, a CNN Special Investigation: THE ATLANTA CHILD MURDERS, with Soledad O'Brien.
We'll see you tomorrow.