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Arkansas Flood; BP Oil Spill

Aired June 11, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening.

We're live tonight from Venice, Louisiana, a gritty, yet gorgeous fishing village now on the front lines of the war against the BP oil spill. Many important develops on this day 53, and it was a very special day for us -- an exclusive look at the effort to rescue the Gulf's endangered sea turtles from the toxic impact of the spill.

But we begin tonight with another major breaking news story. Flash flooding in Arkansas that's left at least 16 people dead and 36 others missing. The flooding caused by heavy rains hit campgrounds in western Arkansas about 2:00 a.m. There may have been as many as 300 people in this remote area at the time.

Joining us now with the latest on the search and rescue efforts is Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Senator, let me just start with the missing. What do you know about the search effort and just how high the death toll here could go?

SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS (via phone): Well our Arkansas first responders were on the scene quickly and we first and foremost want to make sure that our heart goes out to the families and loved ones that have lost lives and certainly this terrible disaster and praying for a quick rescue and recovery for those that are still missing, but the first responders had been out there. And we certainly pray for our emergency personnel.

I'll be touring the site over at the Albapike (ph) area tomorrow with Secretary Vilsack and the chief of the Forest Service, Tom Tidwell who will be with me. We've talked to the Red Cross. They have been down there on the ground as well. They said it's enormously rough down there and we've had both our Red Cross teams from across the state of Arkansas as well as another state that have been there on the ground.

And we got the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and FEMA working together. So we've got everybody on the ground. We've got the National Guard as well. The Red Cross is set up at a church down there and then we've also got the Kirby (ph) school gym open for housing families. But most of those people are there with nothing but the shirt on their back. They've lost everything. And whether they were camping or whether they were residents that were within the Forest Service area, they pretty much are left with nothing. So but we do have the search and rescue going and you know we just want to keep (INAUDIBLE) our hopes and prayers that we can find those that are still missing. KING: I've been in this part of your beautiful state, senator. It's gorgeous and breathtaking but it is also very remote. Has the remoteness complicated at all the search and rescue efforts? Were there enough resources in the community or was it because you have to travel the distance and such has that complicated things?

LINCOLN: You're exactly right. The remote nature of it has led to many things. One the fact that there was no forewarning of the flash floods, the remote nature of the area causes it. Some of those radars don't catch low traveling storms which can be some of the most dangerous. So there wasn't a lot of warning time at all to anybody there.

Cell service is spotty at best. And certainly the steep ravines and the steep nature of the mountains as well as the valleys where the rivers are just make it very difficult. We've got helicopters in there and we've got the National Guard over in Oklahoma, I believe they sent over a helicopter, so there's helicopters now in the area helping with the search and rescue which is very helpful in that very steep terrain. And as you said it's extremely remote.

KING: Senator Lincoln, we appreciate your time tonight and good luck on your visit tomorrow and please keep in touch and we will continue to track and stay on top of this story in the hours and the days ahead -- Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas helping us understand this deadly tragic flood in the western part of her state. Senator thanks again.

Now on to today's other big story, the Gulf oil spill right here where we are tonight in Louisiana. In a moment we're going to give you a look at a remarkable effort to save sea turtle from the spill. It will make you smile and we can all use a smile after 53 days of the tough developments here, but first, the developments you need to know.

The numbers driving this crisis keep changing. As I noted it's day 53 now. The president is planning his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast. BP says nearly 89,000 barrels of oil have been collected in its container ships since it put that cap in place last week. But oil continues to spew into the Gulf and we may never know the exact amount. But the government now estimates this disaster dwarfs the Exxon Valdez roughly seven times the amount of oil poured into a sensitive eco system. Among those people increasingly irritated with the growing flow rate estimate is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: At the very beginning we were told there was no flow, there was no oil leak and then we were told it was maybe 1,000 barrels. Then we were today maybe it was 5,000 barrels. Then we were told maybe it's 12 to 19,000 barrels. Now we're told maybe it's 20 to 40,000 barrels with a chance it could be 20 percent more than that because they cut the riser.


KING: Let's discuss the big developments today with two guests -- James Carville our CNN contributor, someone for whom this crisis is personal, joins us from New Orleans and with me here in Venice is the president of Plaquemines Parish Billy Nungesser, who has been sharply critical of the federal effort. Billy, let me just start with you.

When you heard last night, oh, the estimate is now being doubled. It is seven times the Exxon Valdez out there, this is your community, these are your fishing boats right here that can't go out and do their work. What went through your mind?

BILLY NUNGESSER, PRES., PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LOUISIANA: It's just another blow. It's -- you know it's going to be that much longer, that much more oil that will wash ashore at some point. If they cap it tomorrow we're looking at six months a year maybe. Some people estimate two or three years before all that oil will come ashore. It just keeps going and keeps growing and the story keeps changing. And, you know, I wish we could get the truth and have someone look us in the eye and tell us the truth.

KING: I want to bring on that point you were in Washington yesterday and you were sharply critical in your testimony saying you're having problems with both BP and the Coast Guard saying they can't give you answers, they don't act quickly, that their stories keep changing. Today in his briefing, Thad Allen the incident commander, the former Coast Guard commandant, he pushed back a little bit. He said that after the early rough days which he conceded were rough that the Coast Guard has put essentially a liaison with every one of the parish presidents -- you included. I want you to listen to Thad Allen.


ADM. THAD ALLEN, NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: (INAUDIBLE) gentleman say give me what your problem was. Who did you ask and what happened and I'd be able to respond to you, but we've had Coast Guard officers standing next to those guys for three weeks.


KING: You've had Coast -- he says you've had a Coast Guard guy standing next to you for the past three weeks.

NUNGESSER: He is absolutely right; a great man by the name of Sam sits in our office. But that's not getting the job done out there. You know it took us three weeks to get the vacuum. It took the governor going out there taking the vacuum hose and showing it works. Now we have vacuums approved. We shouldn't have to fight every step of the way to get -- if you got a better tool than the vacuum, show it to us and use it. But don't fight us on everything we ask for.

I'll be at home tomorrow presenting another plan with additional equipment that ought to be out there already -- should have been out there three, four weeks ago. Why is it taking so long for them to get it? And I'm trying to be patient. But weeks and weeks and weeks, we went for three hours with the new head of BP. He saw it all in the bays. He saw it in the marsh. He saw it on the barrier islands. He admitted where we're pumping is working. We didn't see one skimmer boat. He said this is unacceptable. Yet Thad Allen says we're getting it done -- absolutely not.

KING: Well let's bring James Carville in to the conversation on that point. James, another question that came up at Thad Allen's briefing today, this the day after we learned that the oil out there is seven times the Exxon Valdez, doubled at least the previous estimates. Thad Allen was asked this, do you trust BP?


ALLEN: You know I get the trust word all the time. The fact of the matter is we have to have a cooperative productive relationship for this thing to work moving forward. When I talk to them and I ask for answers I get them. You can characterize that as trust, partnership, cooperation, collaboration or whatever, but this has to be a unified effort moving forward if we're going to get this thing solved.


ALLEN: If you can call it that trust, yes.


KING: I know he's in the military, James, not in politics but I'm not sure -- was that a yes or a no or was it sort of a maybe?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think when you're an admiral, a corporal who will defer to your answer and I just let that one go by. Look, some of the things here are governed by the 1990 Spill Act. And for life of me I don't understand this bill, I don't think they anticipated something of this magnitude. And I think one of the things the president has to do he's got to call the Congress in and ask for extraordinary powers and also to amend some of this legislation.

Some of this stuff goes back to the Stafford Act and things like that. Obviously if you listen to somebody like Billy Nungesser and other people that they're completely frustrated because there's just too much to sort of deal with here and let the Coast Guard try to level out the bureaucracy. But you can't have this many people complaining about so much and not have something valid at the root of it. And maybe the problem is some presidential involvement, maybe some statutory changes here.

KING: I got a lot of specifics to cover tonight. But I want to ask both of you at the top of the show, especially as we close out the week a bigger picture question. I ran into a woman today was getting lunch up near New Orleans, four and a half years, almost five years she's lived in a trailer since Katrina. She says finally next month she thinks she's going to move into her house after repealing and fighting and going through the bureaucracy.

She said quote "things move slowly down here. And her take -- she said she can't watch any of the coverage of this spill. She says you just wait, give it a week or two, we will be forgotten. Are you worried about that?

NUNGESSER: We worry -- we worry that if it hits the Florida beaches in large volumes we might not get the coverage. And the simple thing is you can pick it up off the beach. You've seen that. You can't pick it up off the marsh. It destroys the life where the lifecycles begins when it lands in that marsh and I still don't think Thad Allen or BP gets it because there's not enough equipment out there to keep it out of the marsh. And she's right we will be forgotten.

KING: James, 25 percent of the seafood eaten in this country comes from right out there, right off these waters. Do you think -- do you think that a month from now, six months from now, a year from now when we're still trying to figure out the environmental impact will this be forgotten?

CARVILLE: Everything history tells us it absolutely will. What that woman said, she has been totally conditioned by the history of south Louisiana and Billy Nungesser understands this. They've levied (ph) up the river, they've (INAUDIBLE) settlement. They've cut canals. They've built bad levees. The engineering is horrible. They didn't check these rigs out there. They let them -- the MMS was bought off and the entire history of this region has been one of the country taking it for granted for raping it, for plundering it, for depriving us of everything that we do and that woman is absolutely right and I have no doubt in my mind that we were treated differently in Katrina if it would have hit some where else.

I have no doubt in my mind if this spill would have hit Long Beach -- Long Island Sound that the response would have been entirely different. You are very, very justified and very vindicated in your belief and I think it's up to the people this time to say we're going to draw the line in the (INAUDIBLE) mud here and tell the rest of the country that we've had enough and we've had enough of the whole thing and Billy's parish is disappearing faster than any plot of land in the United States.

This has been happening. People have been complaining about it. The country has turned a deaf ear to it. And I got to tell you that the oil is gushing up from that gusher and the resentment is gushing up here in south Louisiana. And it's well, well justified and it's steeped in history and it's steeped in accurate history.

KING: James and Billy are going to stay with us. We're going to take a quick break. But we remind you we're live tonight in a spectacular fishing community now threatened by this spill, Venice, Louisiana. And when we come back we'll explore what's happening to fight this spill. Are the chemicals being used to fight the oil actually harming the long term environment for these fishermen and we'll also give you an exclusive look at the effort to save some of the endangered species that live in these remarkable waters, the sea turtles.


KING: We're live tonight from the marina in Venice, Louisiana. It is a gritty, gorgeous fishing village. Many of those boats you're seeing right there unfortunately, sadly idled by the Gulf oil spill. The water is now closed to fishing, the livelihood of this community in question tonight.

We're back to continue our conversation with the president of this parish, Billy Nungesser, and also joining us from New Orleans our CNN contributor and New Orleans resident James Carville. I had a conversation with the governor during this trip and he says one of his bigger questions, they don't know how much oil is spewing in.

They don't know how much has been in the water. They can't get questions about the response quick enough. He says looking down the road one of the questions he keeps asking, what is in those dispersants they are using to try to break up the oil to keep it from shore, but the question is what will those chemicals do to the water? What will those chemicals do to the sea life? The governor was very frustrated.


JINDAL: We need to see the ingredients. We need to see the concentrations. We need to know what to test for in our seafood. We need to know a year from now, two years from now, five years now what to be looking for and what these chemicals are doing. At first they wouldn't give us the ingredients. Now they want us to sign a nondisclosure list -- nondisclosure agreement. We're fighting that saying our people have a right to know what chemicals are out there and what concentration --

KING: Doesn't the public have a right to know?

JINDAL: Absolutely. Our people -- the public has an absolute right to know what's being put in that water and so that we can know. We have some guarantee of what to test on how to protect ourselves.


KING: Do you know -- I mean do you know what to tell these guys about will you be able to fish in five weeks or five years?

NUNGESSER: Absolutely. You see that orange coming in that's just not oil and you know it was going to stay offshore. They (INAUDIBLE) spray offshore. Well that orange coming in, the BP representative that went out with us said you can see the dispersants is in this. It's not in that. It's in this. It's not in that. So he was identifying right there off our coast.

So it has made it to the breeding grounds. So we won't know and they won't disclose it. That's criminal. The federal government ought to demand that they disclose everything and we're still spraying it and I personally think it's causing more problems because it's keeping the oil -- it's hiding the oil. If they didn't spray and it all came to the top we could capture it all and lift it out. It's like they did it to hide the oil just like I believe they don't want to know how much oil is coming out.

KING: Do they pay based on how much oil is coming out?

NUNGESSER: I got to believe that.

KING: James, what does it tell you when the governor of your state says I can't tell my health department what to test for in the seafood, what to test for in the water supply, what to put on the list so that we check back in six month, two years, five years or whatever to make sure there's not a long term impact?

CARVILLE: The manufacturer of that dispersant claims time and time again that they have given the ingredients and that they are utterly harmless. The people at Tulane at Environmental School said the dispersant is harmless. I know that Lisa Jackson who is an EPA administrator is from here -- she is a highly trained engineer. I don't think she would do something that would harm, but you know we don't have the research on what this dispersant effect on seafood is. We need it, but it's important to note that there is another side to this story in terms of how harmful this dispersant is.

Myself I have utterly no idea. I'm not trained in this kind of thing. But I do know that the Tulane environmental people who I suspect are pretty skilled seem to think this stuff is not as dangerous as some people do. But it's something that needs to be discussed. It needs to be aired out and we've got to hear every side of this issue.

KING: Sunlight as we say -- the more public information we have the less question and the less debate. James and Billy will be back with us in just a bit. We want you now to consider this. The dispersant issue also matters when people talk about that long term habitat, not just for the fishermen, but for the species that live there. Here are some pictures of endangered sea turtles taken right from the oily waters. The immediate priority is to save their lives, but the scientists doing that also have some troubling long term questions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we do have teams out in the Gulf, both shore line as well as in open water. They are actively trying to find the animals as quickly as they can. This is the area where the oil turtles will come in to. They get their initial exam.

KING: How dirty was he when you got him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) fine. They clean them up on the boat very, very well, so it was not bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've collected 35 live oiled turtles to date. We then bring them into rehabilitation, care for them long term, make sure they are healthy as they can be.

KING: So this is -- was a 136-pound loggerhead when it came in.


KING: When will you know?

DR.L MICHAEL ZICCARDI, DIR., OILED WILDLIFE CARE NETWORK: We're doing regular exams to make sure all the oil is out of her system. When she's healthy, when she's as normal as we think she is going to be we're then going to return them. Most of these turtles are being flown to Florida to be released into a clean environment. Timing is very bad for sea turtles in particular. Right now females are coming up to lay eggs. This was one of the turtles that was caught actually out on the water.

KING: What do you look for in the first couple of days to get a sense of whether they have anything chronic?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well we're testing their blood. Some of these turtles have come in to us with low blood glucose so they are not eating real well.

KING: What's in their food?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's an excellent question. We don't -- we know that oil is out there. It's going to be taken up in the food chain. We know that there is going to be long term exposure, turtles, mammals and birds to oil on an ongoing basis.

KING: What about during the efforts out there now when all the dispersants are being dropped? Are they as much a threat as the oil?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can be. We don't have a lot of information as far as the effects of dispersants and dispersed oil on these species.

KING: You have experience going back to Valdez. Put this though into context in terms of the scope of the damage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have over 150 people out there actually caring for the animals and trying to capture them, so just the sheer vastness of the response is very different.

KING: When do you think you'll be comfortable saying, you know, here's what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's going to take a long time because there's so much oil in the environment. Because the oil has been dispersed under sea, there's a large volume in the water. I think we're going to know as far as the acute effects how many animals died and how many animals were collected. But as far as the long term population level effects, we're still learning some of the effects from Exxon Valdez even today. I do think it might even take decades.


KING: Just a remarkable effort there. And they deserve our praise and our support as they try to save all this wildlife. Coming up, in "Wall-to-Wall" telling BP show me the money -- we'll have the latest on their payment of claims and possibly cutting their dividends. Also we'll go "One-on-One" with the Mississippi governor, Haley Barbour. He says something President Obama is planning has him tickled to death. Friday is the day you get to "Make Your Case". What message do you have for the people of the Gulf and BP?

And in the "Play-by-Play" we've heard from all four Gulf governors during our tour this week. What do they have in common? Where do they disagree? And you've got to hear the viral remix of President Obama kicking "A".


ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One".

KING: We've learned so much as we have spent this past week along the Gulf Coast and along the way we've had a chance to talk to the governors of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. That left Mississippi. And this afternoon I had a chance to go "One-on-One" with the Republican Governor Haley Barbour.

Governor Barbour, the government now says the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico is probably twice as much as originally estimated now in the ballpark of seven times the Exxon Valdez. Does that change your perspective of the scope of this spill and the risk to your state of Mississippi?

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: Well of course it changes especially the scope because there's a lot more oil. Now, as I understand it the numbers that they put out yesterday were the total flow did not include the 15,000 barrels that's being captured by their cap or whatever they call it. But, yes, it means that much more oil is in the Gulf and it means there's that much more that has to be either dispersed, burned, skimmed or whatever.

And it also means that there's a higher likelihood it will get to Mississippi. We have not had any intrusion of oil on to Mississippi's beaches. We had one intrusion on one of the barrier islands. Came up one day and washed out the next day and left no -- you couldn't tell it had even been there.

KING: You have chastised my business, the news media, saying we're creating an environment in which people are afraid to come spend on your beaches, but then you've also said in recent days that this is a wake up call.

BARBOUR: Well it's both. I mean we had some -- we had a small amount of oil Monday, a week ago that got on Pettiboy Island (ph) without it being seen by our flotilla that's supposed to be out there watching for the oil. That was what the wake up call was. The biggest economic damage for Mississippi is that we've had a tremendous number of cancellations, whether of fishing trips or family vacations, and that's where all of our economic damage -- most all of our economic damage has been done.

Unlike our friends in Louisiana, who have had a terrible, terrible thing to have to deal with that we feel awful for them, that simply hasn't happened here and the news coverage does not make the differentiation. Everybody I see from California to New York thinks the Mississippi Gulf Coast is ankle deep in oil and that's simply not the case.

KING: I saw your friend, Governor Jindal here yesterday in Louisiana. He was white hot at the president. He says the president with this deep water moratorium is now adding an economic catastrophe on top of an environmental catastrophe for the Gulf region. But the White House says look we don't know what caused the spill on the Deepwater Horizon and until we can study it, until we can find out what new safety precautions might be necessary, what new regulations might be necessary the president says he's not going to take the risk. Who is right?

BARBOUR: Well I agree with Governor Jindal. This is not a question where it's all the rights on one side. The president, I know, believes he's being prudent. But look when an airplane crashes we don't shut down the airlines until we figure out why it crashed. And this is the first time in 30-plus thousand drillings that this has happened. And it's a terrible thing.

And we need to get to the bottom it. But I do not believe we need to stop all drilling. And I'll tell you why. It's more than just jobs lost in the Gulf region. That would be terrible. It will be a huge economic negative impact. And the idea that these oil rigs, 33 of them that were out there drilling wells in deep water are going to sit around here for six months during this moratorium and then be here to start drilling and we're going to -- the idea that we're only going to lose six months of drilling is just wrongheaded.

Those oil wells, those oil drilling rigs are going to be off West Africa, Indonesia, China, Brazil, Russia. They will be all over the world because they are so, so expensive. They are not going to let them idle. And frankly, as you know, John, the two big companies here that are involved in this spill, BP and Transocean are not even American companies. They don't feel compelled to stay in America.

They're going to go wherever the business is and some of these rigs won't come back for years and years. The 10 worst oil spills in American history, one was from an oil well, seven were from ships carrying oil at sea. We'd have more ships carrying oil at sea because of this moratorium.

KING: The president is coming to your state next week with Mississippi. You have tensions with the president right now? Do you not want to be photographed with him?

BARBOUR: No. Look when George Bush came to the Gulf Coast many, many times after Katrina, I never went to see him unless he came to Mississippi. I certainly didn't have any issues with George Bush. And I got no problem with President Obama. We're tickled to death that he's coming Monday. He has known that the red carpet was out for whenever he wanted to come. I (INAUDIBLE) understand why he went the first three times to Louisiana. It is a huge, huge, huge different problem over there from what we got. KING: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a man who ran for president before as a Republican is probably going to run again wrote this week in assessing the president's crisis management. He said America needs a leader not a politician. Do you think President Obama is being a politician not a leader?

BARBOUR: Look, it doesn't serve any purpose for me to critique how the president has done or hadn't done. I will tell you generally, just as I told you after Katrina, the federal government has tried hard to do everything we've asked them to do. BP, by the way, has tried to do everything we asked them to do. I'm not going to pile on the president. I see the polls. I can read. But it serves no purpose for me to criticize him. Not going to.

KING: What about BP? I've been in Florida and Alabama and spoken to the governors there in both states. I spoke to the governor here in Louisiana. All of them have complaints about the BP claim process saying their businesses that are being impacted are waiting too long. What's your experience in Mississippi?

BARBOUR: We found with BP, first of all, we didn't think they moved quickly enough to hire Mississippi companies and Mississippi employees to defend. They corrected that. We thought their PR effort at the beginning was almost non-existent. They have tried to correct that. We still think they need to be pushing more vessels of opportunity out south of our barrier islands to fight off this oil before it gets to us, and that's our plan in Mississippi. It's not wait until the oil comes on to our beaches, but to try to skim it, burn it, disperse it, whatever, outside the barrier islands and every foot between there and the shore.

KING: Our thanks to Governor Barbour. We'll check in with him when the president visits his state next week.

Later in the hour, we'll compare what all four of the Gulf State governors have said about the deep water drilling moratorium. We'll break down the differences with James Carville and Billy Nungesser.

Now, here are some images as we go to break, more of the devastating images collected from CNN cameras around the Gulf region as we've been here this week.


KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight, a look at BP's financial standing and its worldwide operations as it prepares to battle and not only the government but the oil spill off this coast. Times of London is reporting today BP is preparing to defer the dividend -- put the dividend money and prepare to pay its shareholders into dividend escrow until it determines its liabilities from the Gulf oil spill. BP executive Tony Hayward told the "Wall Street Journal" today, quote, "we're considering all options in the dividend, but no decision has been made.

The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington today joined a growing number of U.S. politicians who say do not dare pay that dividend until you clean up this Gulf.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: The responsibility before they spend all this money on advertising saying how they're going to pay every claim. They should pay the claims, and they should do that before they go forward with additional dividends.


KING: Now, follow the bars here. The yellow bar shows the $52 million BP has paid in claims so far. That compares, look at the green bar, to $2.5 billion in second quarter dividends BP had been planning to pay the shareholders. There are 42,000 claims filed so far. The company says 20,000 of them have at least been partially paid. How big is BP? Well, it has operations all over the world. Eleven rigs and other facilities in Africa, 19 in Asia and the middle east, 25 in Europe, four in South America, one in Australia, one in New Zealand.

BP in 2009 posted a profit of $17 billion. At the moment, the company has $152.6 billion market value. But take at that look at these numbers here, On April 20th, BP stock price was $60.48 cents a share, June 9th, the lowest that it has been since the spill, $29.20. Today, it closed just shy of $34 as the stock price has gone down, look at the arrow going up, that is the rising oil flow. We were told earlier on it was 1,000 barrels a day. Now, the estimate, perhaps, 40,000 barrels a day.

When we come back we'll continue our conversation here. We'll go on our radar with Billy Nungesser and James Carville will re-join us. We'll continue to talk about the oil spill and the day's other big news.


KING: We're determined as always to bring you into the conversation. So, every Monday, we ask a question that will give you all week to make your case by posting a video on our website, This week's question, what is your message to the people in the Gulf region. Here's a sampling of your answers.


AILEEN DOHERTY, BROOKLYN, NY: It's a real tragedy what's going on in the Gulf Coast, and I really wish that the government and the authorities work hand-in-hand with the people on the ground.

KIRBY KOK, WASHINGTON, DC: I'm very sorry for the people at the Gulf Coast, and I hope Obama is doing what he can to fix the situation.

JERRY JOHNSON, SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV: They should do everything they can to get some aid from the federal government because it was the federal government's responsibility to solve their situation, and they did not do it. ADRIANA MAXWELL, LOUISIANA: Don't ever let BP off the hook. Ever.

JESSICA WASSERMAN, WASHINGTON, DC: We've learned a lot about your way of life in your area and I think we all value, even though, we don't visit there, that culture and that natural beauty remain.


KING: Let's bring our CNN contributor James Carville and Plaquemine Parish President, Billy Nungesser back into the conversation. James is in New Orleans. Billy is here with me. When you hear the people there essentially pouring out their hearts, very different crisis, but after Katrina and Rita, your state was flooded with volunteers from all around the country, in some cases, all around the world. Do you need a similar outpouring here or is this so different because most of the battle is being weighed out there in the bottom (ph)?

BILLY NUNGESSER, PRES., PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LOUISIANA: I think most of the battle. We don't need the volunteers, but we do need the people to speak up to their congressman and senators, because the action on the ground here and BP is not being held accountable and this could happen anywhere in the country. And we need to have a plan. As we mentioned, the only thing that's getting done and the things that the governor or the local leaders are pushing BP to do. It shouldn't be that way. They should be out there full force throwing everything in the kitchen sink at this, and it's not happening.

KING: Do you think, James, that outpouring of support will continue? If you go online, for example, at or the other internet websites and you track the stories that are trending, this story has begun to go down a little bit. People are paying a little less attention to it. They're not as urgently checking in on the information.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, that's human nature. There will be something else. I mean, Henry Ford said history was just one, you know, damn (ph) thing after another, and man, do we know this? And that's why it's important to sort of keep the focus here. But unlike Katrina, this stuff is just going to keep coming up, and this is very insidious. By my count, we might be a third to 40 percent of the way through it all. We got -- what I think of how much left there is to come at us, it's actually sickening.

That's one of the things that I hope the president does is somebody got to level with us because we're not even two months into this, and I don't see that they're going to get this relief well down there. No one believes they can do it until October. If that's the case, it's going to be a very, very -- the gulf is going to be a very big mess out there. So, you know, it's up to people in the press and it's up to people in Louisiana and the Gulf region to keep the focus on this. And you're right, people's concentration. You can't blame them because they're going to move on to something else. KING: Let's keep our focus on this as we move on to some stories on my radar today. British officials starting to get a bit defensive about U.S. officials beating up on BP. Get a load of how Britain's new Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the Obama administration, hey, tone it down.


NICK CLEGG, BRITISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I think everybody is united, both sides of the Atlantic, obviously quite right, understandably within the U.S. administration. And I'm sure within BP itself to deal with this problem.


KING: You were shaking your head.

NUNGESSER: This is unbelievable. Is this (INAUDIBLE) run over that country, the ignorance (ph)? I mean, to make those kind of statements. Obviously, Nick hasn't been over here and touch the oil. Even the new BP man in charge, when he put his hand in the oil, he says it is a lot different when you come out here and see everything is dead, when you see those animals and struggling their life. The incompetence and the comments by people -- are they that just heartless? I mean, this is a tragedy that has, as James said, has only just begun.

We got a tropical storm that brings out oil and lays it across coastal Louisiana. We're wiped out for the next 20 years. This community will be dead. And they're talking like we're being too tough? If BP would have stepped up to plate and did the right thing, we wouldn't be standing here. We wouldn't be working side by side with them. But they didn't do their job.

KING: This is the so-called special relationship, James. Is this spill going to hurt U.S.-British relations?

CARVILLE: No. But if I looked real hard this way, John, because it's around the bend so I couldn't see it, but 195 years ago, we had a little scuffle with the British out here, a little bit down river from New Orleans. There's no -- one thing I want to be clear about to the people in Britain. We love British people and we do, but the problem is this company was a giant tortfeasor out there and acted irresponsibly, and they're going to be held accountable, Mr. Clegg.

If it you, if a Brit, or it doesn't matter, anybody else that comes to this country violates our laws, if it acts irresponsibly, it's going to be held accountable. And I would expect that that would be the same thing you would expect if an American corporation came on British territory. So, what you need to do is get informed and try to do something about your economy over there and your housing crisis and leave BP to us.

KING: All right. A quick time-out. When we come back, we'll be live still from Louisiana. We're in Venice tonight. And after the break, we'll also have the latest from the tragic events in Arkansas where flash floods turn deadly for campers.


KING: For those of you just joining us, we're live tonight from Venice, Louisiana. Tonight, there's breaking news in Arkansas, though. Here's what you need to know right now. At least 16 people are dead and 36 missing after flash floods swept away campers in a remote mountainous area in Western Arkansas. 300 people may have been in the Albert Pike recreation area when the flood hit about 2:00 a.m. this morning. Survivors say the water rose as swiftly as eight feet an hour sweeping away tents, cars and overturning RVs.

ANNOUNCER: Here comes the "Play-by-Play."

KING: Friday night "Play-by-Play" tonight, we're back. James Carville joins us from New Orleans, Billy Nungesser, the president of this parish is with us right here in Venice, Louisiana.

Yesterday, I talked to one of your colleagues, Lafourche parish president, Charlotte Randolph. She was with the president out on Grand Isle. She was in picture showing all around the world when President Obama came here. I talked to her last night. She's been pressing to get the moratorium lifted, the deep water moratorium lifted, and she said now that she now feels used. I want you to listen.


CHARLOTTE RANDOLPH, LAFOURCHE PARISH, LA., PRESIDENT: 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're out walking, assessing some of the damage. Do you regret that in any way?

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're the poster children for alternative energy.


KING: She says last night we're the poster children for alternative energy. Here is a tweet from at Barack Obama put out just today. "Stand with me in backing clean energy. Send a clear message that the American people are ready for a clean energy future."

NUNGESSER: Let me tell you, we know three nights before this explosion, there were problems on the rig. People asked to be removed. I've been in the oil field my whole life before I was elected parish president. Every time there has been a problem offshore, there has been a disagreement before the problem between the tool (ph) pushing the company man, we proposed to the president a 66- man plan, 33 men on and then 33 to crew change every week. Retired engineers appointed by the president, a federal air Marshall out there could stop the well at any time he saw a decision with safety. That alone would make the Gulf 100 percent safer tomorrow, not in six months.

Also, the devices used in the UK, the half of million dollar device that would be a back up to the blowout preventer. Those are two things you can do tomorrow. Let them keep drilling and increase the safety 900 percent. But it's not as politically popular as placing a moratorium.

KING: James, you helped Bill Clinton get to the White House back in 1992. A lot of people look at the governor of this state, Bobby Jindal, as perhaps a future presidential candidate, but when he gave a response to the president's speech a while back, he was panned. I want you to listen to Bobby Jindal then and now.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: The way to lead is by empowering you, the American people, because we believe that Americans can do anything.

This isn't an inconvenience to someone who can't pay their bills. This isn't an inconvenience to the birds, the pelicans that have been oiled. This isn't an inconvenience to the marshlands that are dying. This isn't an inconvenience to the thousands of Louisianans who are directly impacted this that worry about their ability to make a living off this coast.


KING: When he's outdoors and has a bit of crisis, he got a bit more adrenaline.

CARVILLE: I want to give my 100 percent support to the Nungesser plan to resume drilling. That makes a lot of sense and signed me up as a co-sponsor of it.

NUNGESSER: Thank you.

CARVILLE: Yes, I think the governor has gone around and fought for things during this time. And I think he has done a lot better. And I think people acknowledge that and give him credit for it.

KING: All right. I want to thank James and Billy for spending the hour with us tonight, both on a first-name basis, right James and Billy? It's Friday night in New Orleans, you know. Are the tourists still coming? Pete is on Bourbon Street. Pete, that's the street to be on, when we come back.


KING: Candy Crowley is filling in for Campbell Brown tonight. Let's head up to New York and get a sense of what's coming up at the top of the hour.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, John. We'll have the very latest on the flash flood that destroyed an Arkansas campsite, killing at least 16 people, dozens still missing. Arkansas governor, Mike Beebe, will join us.

And also tonight, of course, the latest on the cleanup in the Gulf. There's talk of a kind of Marshall plan to help rebuild the area -- John.

KING: Laissez les bons temps rouler or let the good times roll. That's the model of the good people of New Orleans, but what about the tourists? Are they letting the spill get in the way of a good time? Who better to find out than our own Pete Dominick.


PETE DOMINICK, JOHN KING, USA OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey, John King. I'm down here in New Orleans, or New Orleans as we call it up north. I'm not sure which one is right. Either way, I'm on the historic French Quarter Bourbon Street. I want to go out and ask people that have any second thoughts or hesitation about coming down here due to the Gulf oil disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm concerned about everything.


DOMINICK: You're not concerned? Why not, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I believe they can straighten it out and clean it up.

DOMINICK: Did you think about not coming because of the oil?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were questioning it on the way to see. We weren't sure how it's going to be down here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought we shouldn't come here, but --

DOMINICK: But you came, anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We came, anyway. It's beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.

DOMINICK: Never thought about not coming?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard about it, but it didn't hold me back.

DOMINICK: Never even thought of it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never even thought of it.

DOMINICK: You came and have a great time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm having a great time.

DOMINICK: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're coming there with me?

DOMINICK: We'll come over there on the way back.

Hold this. I'm off duty. Let's go. Is this your first wife, sir?


DOMINICK: All right. All right. Hey, don't drink and drive, sir. What's your name?




DOMINICK: I'm John King. How are you? Are you concerned about the oil in the Gulf before you came down here? Were you concerned?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not concerned at all.

DOMINICK: This is Bourbon Street on a week night in June. And I think we all hope it stays this way forever. Back to you, John King.


KING: Thank you, Pete. Thank you for being with us tonight. Enjoy your weekend. Come back Monday. We'll be here in the Gulf Coast as the president visits. Candy Crowley takes it away right now.