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Can Gulf of Mexico Recover From Oil Spill?; Hillary Clinton Announces Administration Will Sue Arizona

Aired June 18, 2010 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much. Happening now a big increase in the amount of leaking oil being captured in the gulf. Big doubts among Americans that the gulf will ever recover completely from this disaster. He accused the Obama administration of a shakedown for putting pressure on BP then he backed off. While Congressman Barton has upset many fellow Republicans some conservatives are praising him.

Also, secretary of state Hillary Clinton dropping a bombshell concerning Arizona's controversial immigration law. Wait until you hear what Arizona's governor is saying in response. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

More oil from that gushing well being kept out of the Gulf of Mexico. Here are the latest developments. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says 25,000 barrels of oil were collected in the last 24-hour period. That's about one-third more than the previous day. Good news. The house judiciary committee says BP has paid less than 12 percent of damage claims by individuals and businesses. The panel says BP hasn't made a single payment for either bodily injury or diminished home property value. Not such good news. The official in charge of the new $20 billion compensation fund today pledged to quickly create a system to process claims. Ken Feinberg who oversaw the 9/11 victims fund vows claims could be paid within 60 days of filing. Our latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll, will the Gulf of Mexico ever completely recover? 51 percent say yes. 49 percent say no.

The president already has a coast guard admiral overseeing the gulf crisis. Now he's brought in the navy's secretary, the former Mississippi governor Ray Mabus to lead the environmental and economic recovery effort along the coast. But Mabus isn't giving up his day job and that's sparking serious criticism out there. Let's go to our senior white house correspondent Ed Henry who is monitoring what's going on. What are they saying about the white house? The navy secretary, that's a full-time job overseeing the navy, Marine Corps, and now is also going to undertake this effort along the gulf coast?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A full-time job obviously with two wars going on overseas. The white house now facing some criticism because Ray Mabus is going to keep his day job essentially. I just got off the phone with a spokeswoman at the defenders of wildlife who was saying, look. This is going to take years, maybe decades to clean up the gulf, clean up the environment. Get the wildlife back. And they think this should be a full-time job. This criticism was sparked by the fact that yesterday I asked Robert Gibbs whether or not Secretary Mabus would be stepping down from his day job. Take a listen.


HENRY: Wouldn't this be a full-time job in the gulf recovery?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I -- the president talked to the governor about this and they both agreed that he had the ability to do both.


HENRY: Ray Mabus was here. He met with the president at the white house here to go through all of this. They feel confident that he can balance all of this and today a white house spokesman Bill Burton traveling in Ohio with the president was pressed by reporters about this. He insisted the president still thinks this is the right man for the job and he can balance his time.

BLITZER: He may be the right man for the job. I know Ray Mabus. He is a very talented guy, as you say, a former governor of Mississippi. When I heard the president in the oval office say this son of the gulf coast, son of the south was going to take charge I assumed the president would be looking for a new navy secretary because I assumed that would be a full-time job. He is though getting some support from some environmentalists.

HENRY: He is. Because that is the broader issue is the way the president cast this on Tuesday night in the oval office. He was using all that war rhetoric, mobilizing the forces, really made it sound like this was going to be a full-time job in terms of gulf restoration. There are some defenders, though, of Ray Mabus as you noted. I just got off the phone with Fred Krupp, he's president of the environmental defense fund and he basically told me, look, he's been working with Ray Mabus for a long time because he is on an advisory council at the pentagon where Ray Mabus has an initiative to make the navy more energy efficient and Fred Krupp was telling me you could not find a better environmentalist who knows the gulf region as well as he does. He was the Mississippi governor. Fred Krupp said if anyone is going to do this whether part-time or full-time this is the man to do it. So they have defenders. This will raise more concerns about the president's focus on this issue and whether the white house or administration more broadly is really mobilizing all of the forces.

BLITZER: I suspect at some point he has to pick one of these two jobs. I know what a secretary of the navy does. It's more than a full-time job overseeing some 800,000 or 900,000 military troops in the navy and the Marine Corps. He's going to have to make a major decision. So will the president. Ed, thanks very much.

He is a high profile movie star but Kevin Costner has spent years trying to get big oil companies to pay attention to a device he helped fund. It's a machine that separates oil from water. BP this week ordered almost three dozen of them. Yesterday Costner testified before a Senate committee. Today he joined Louisiana officials and BP executives on the front lines of the oil fight. Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera. He's on the scene for us in Golden Meadow, Louisiana. How did it go, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually it was kind of interesting. The barge you see behind me has three of those machineries, the centrifuge machines sitting up on top, the white machines with the hard hats, that is a barge that was in the gulf and was brought in for this event that just wrapped up moments ago and will be heading back out into the gulf. It's interesting because Kevin Costner was on capitol hill yesterday essentially criticizing heavily not only the red tape that he had to go through to get BP to pay attention to the machinery he's been pushing but also criticized heavily the oil industry in general for essentially kind of ignoring this idea for decades. So one day after doing that Kevin Costner is down here in Louisiana standing next to one of the BP executives thanking him for finally listening to this idea. As you mentioned, 32 of his centrifuge devices have been purchased by BP and will be deployed into the gulf. Kevin Costner says as well as BP executives say that it will make a good, a great difference in trying to minimize the impact of this oil spill.

KEVIN COSTNER, ACTOR, ENTREPRENEUR: At its core my dream, this machine was designed for that. To fight for you. It was designed to give us a fighting chance to fight back the oil before it got us by the throat. When you're in a fight, anybody knows you go to confront it right where it is. You don't wait for it to come to your door. You don't allow it to reach your family, your community, that's what this machine was intended for.

LAVANDERA: Costner also goes on to say that better late than never. Two months into this oil spill disaster and the cleanup efforts. Essentially the way those machines work, Wolf, is inside that water brings in the water and the oil and spins it so fast they say it separates the oil and the water. The oil is collected inside these tanker barges and this one I was told could capture up to 75,000 barrels of oil so they have several of those that will be deployed out into the gulf as well. But obviously for a company like BP that has taken a brutal beating over the last couple of months from a public relations standpoint the opportunity to stand next to a movie star was too good to pass up.

BLITZER: He really knows the subject, too. He testified here in Washington this week. He obviously has good expertise. Let's hope it really works. Ed, thanks very much, Ed Lavandera on the scene for us.

He apologized to BP accusing the Obama administration of a shakedown. The Republican Congressman Joe Barton has taken it all back. Why are fellow Republicans still furious?

And is the Obama administration planning to file suit over Arizona's controversial immigration law? Hillary Clinton the secretary of state dropping a bombshell and the Arizona governor is furious.

Plus, four North Korean players show up for practice after missing a world cup soccer match. Were they really missing? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty has the Cafferty file and he's here. Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it turns out that recovery is in the eye of the beholder. President Obama and Vice President Biden have kicked off a massive PR campaign celebrating what they're calling recovery summer. They say the $860 billion economic stimulus bill is working. The white house says 2.5 million jobs have been created and should reach 3.5 million by the end of the year. They are highlighting new jobs at thousands of infrastructure projects across the country but the celebration may be premature. Just yesterday the labor department reported new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 12,000 last week, much sharper increase than expected and it shows that the pace of layoffs has not slowed appreciably. Plus we still have a national unemployment rate hovering just below 10 percent. An editorial in the "Washington Times" called Obama's endless summer of spending suggests the administration's make work jobs program has failed and that those infrastructure jobs which are being funded by the taxpayers will disappear when the stimulus money runs out, soon. The fact is the current recovery has been one of the worst for job creation ever. Meanwhile, the picture in many of the 50 states is terrible and getting worse. State and local governments are cutting wherever they can in order to meet their budgets, reducing or eliminating public services, under funding state pension plans, and cutting 230,000 state and local government jobs in just the last couple of years. Former fed chairman Alan Greenspan is out with a dire warning that the United States may soon reach its borrowing limit if we don't make some drastic changes and reduce our $13 trillion national debt. But president Obama wants billions more for stimulus spending. Somewhere there appears to be a rather serious disconnect. Here is the question. Does it feel like a recovery summer to you? Go to Post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: To millions of Americans the answer is certainly no.


BLITZER: We'll hear what they have to say to you, Jack. Thanks very much.

Let's get back to our top story right now, that massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the growing political fallout for President Obama. Let's discuss with our senior political analyst David Gergen and Gloria Borger. Let me read first what Peggy Noonan a former speechwriter in the Reagan administration writes in "The Wall Street Journal." "The president is starting to look snake bit. He is starting to look unlucky like Jimmy Carter. It wasn't Mr. Carter's fault that the American diplomats were taken hostage in Tehran but he handled it badly and suffered. Mr. Obama is starting to look unlucky and file this under mysteries of leadership that is dangerous for him because Americans get nervous when they have a snake bit president. They want presidents on whom the sun shines." Certainly shined most of the time on Ronald Reagan. What do you think of that analysis? DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's much to it. I'm not sure I'd use the word snake bit. Probably a lot of Americans would substitute the word competent, decisive, forceful. The point is, somebody in the white house told me the other day President Obama told them early on about 15 percent or 20 percent of our time we'll be spending on our agenda and the rest probably reacting to other things. We're in the reacting mode right now. And the problem is he went into reacting mode and didn't have a clear plan and most importantly has not seemed forceful, has not seemed as if he is on to know of it. We have this continuing stream. I think he did well with the BP $20 billion fund. The big, bold move, best he's made so far. In terms of cleaning it up we said this on a day-to-day basis, more and more stories coming out, that show people are stumbling all over each other in terms of the cleanup and he's not the leader in charge.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: People elected Barack Obama because they thought he was cool and they thought he was competent. What David is saying and I agree with is they haven't seen that competence. What they've seen and I think this is a bit of a problem for him is somebody who seems to be more academic, more professorial in his approach. We hear a lot, that Steven Chu for example is a Nobel Prize winning physicist who is directing this from the energy department. That's nice to hear except people want to hear that the leak is plugged. We also know that there is a commission on what's going to happen in the future in the gulf. People are thinking more about what happens now particularly with the moratorium on drilling. They want decisions made on that very quickly because people's lives and livelihoods are at stake. So, you know, this is somebody who is clearly a thinker, clearly very deliberate. But people want action and they want to see things getting done faster than they are.

BLITZER: David, Ed Henry reported at the top of the hour on Ray Mabus the secretary of the navy taking a part-time job in addition to running the navy as sort of the gulf coast czar if you will, the recovery czar. When I heard it the other night the president announced Davis would take this on and I assumed he would give up his job as secretary of the navy. Can you really do two jobs like this at the same time?

GERGEN: Not well. Ray Mabus is a first rate individual. He's smart and effective. He has the capability of being an excellent navy secretary and the capability of doing an excellent job on restoration of the gulf planning. He does not -- no one has the capacity to do both of those well. A lot of emphasis is going on the environmental groups that are disturbed he'll only be doing it part-time. I have a lot of concern that he's secretary of the navy with 900,000 people under his command in effect. He's got marines now in Afghanistan and Iraq for whom he is responsible. I think most of us want a secretary of navy spending full-time making sure our armed forces are protected well. And have somebody else do the other job.

BLITZER: I agree. It doesn't speak well of the commitment to the recovery of the gulf or to the navy.


BLITZER: When you try to divide these jobs in half.

BORGER: It is going to be very difficult. Somebody reminded me when Donald Powell was chosen to take over Katrina he quit his job at the federal deposit insurance corporation and that, you know, Mabus is going to have some political problems here because governors like Governor Barbour down there already saying, look, we don't want the feds to decide the reconstruction plan. We as governors want to decide the reconstruction plan. He is going to have to be meeting with an awful lot of political leaders down there. You know how that hand holding goes. It takes an awful lot of time and energy and effort and as both you and David are saying I don't know how he can wear both hats.

BLITZER: I suspect sooner rather than later David they're going to have to make a decision which job does he keep and which one goes somewhere else.

GERGEN: That's exactly right, Wolf. They need to do by the way to act with urgency on that and act with more urgency on the moratorium and that commission is going to meet for the first time next week. It still does not have an executive director. It's not clear that, you know, they ought to have, perhaps a different team going out and looking and inspecting the rigs out there and get people back to work so this doesn't become --

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: A wider economic disaster.

BLITZER: All right. Good points, guys. Thanks very much. Could the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico end up meaning some oil workers will lose their jobs forever? New information coming in.

And vicious tornadoes in Minnesota leave at least three people dead. We'll have the latest on the aftermath.


BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Wolf. At least three people are dead and dozens injured in Minnesota after a cruel dose of severe weather. The National Weather Service reported 36 tornado sightings yesterday which if confirmed would exceed the state record of 27 in one day. Governor Pawlenty is activating the National Guard and touring the damage today.

The Polish president killed in a plane crash is being remembered by his twin brother who is now a leading candidate in the election to replace his late brother. He interrupted his last day of campaigning to visit the grave site. Today is the birthday of the brothers. Poland's elections are Sunday. The late president and first lady were part of a high level delegation killed in April on a trip to Russia.

Members of North Korea's world cup soccer team thought to be missing showed up for practice today. The four players missed the Tuesday match against Brazil. Tournament officials deny they were ever missing saying they were left off the game's lineup because of a technical error.

And the lyrics to the legendary Beatles hit "A Day in the Life" have been auctioned off for $1.2 million. The final song on the classic "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" album was written by John Lennon. Take a listen.

Makes you want to sing along or maybe bop your head or dance. The double sided sheet of paper features Lennon's edits and corrections. "Rolling Stone" magazine lists the song as one of the greatest of all time. You're a Beatles fan aren't you?

BLITZER: Love the Beatles. Can we listen to a little more of that? Maybe 20 more seconds, Howie. Let's listen to a little more.

SYLVESTER: I like it.

BLITZER: Love that song. Love the Beatles. Long live the Beatles as we used to say. Thanks Lisa thanks very much.

Hillary Clinton fanning the flames over Arizona's controversial immigration law. What she said that got Arizona's governor so angry.

And what a GOP Congressman said that got so many fellow Republicans angry. Why Joe Barton is still facing serious fallout.

And the oil disaster takes a growing toll on turtles. We'll show you what's being done to help them.


BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. They're battling the oil spill from the skies. CNN joined the National Guard on important sand bag air lifts to the barrier islands. Stand by.

And they're all the buzz. Why are some people saying buzz off to those famous world cup plastic horns?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Arizona's controversial immigration law requires police to check for legal residency when investigating a suspected crime. The Obama administration has spoken out against that law but has it now served notice that it plans to do something concrete about it? Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is all over this story for us. A bit of a bombshell from the secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECRETARY: Wolf, you're right. As if the debate over the Arizona immigration law wasn't incendiary enough the secretary of state has now poured gasoline on the flames by revealing that the federal government plans to go to court to stop it. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Love it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We as a nation support you and your law.

MESERVE: Or hate it -- the Arizona law arouses passion. Now add insult. The Arizona governor is fuming that she found out through a news interview that the federal government is going to court to block the law.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: They are going to sue us without coming straight to the state of Arizona and notifying me personally. It's outrageous and it's unacceptable.

MESERVE: Secretary of state Hillary Clinton spilled the beans on Latin American television.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: President Obama has spoken out against the law because he thinks that the federal government should be determining immigration policy and the justice department under his direction will be bringing a lawsuit against the act.

MESERVE: A justice department spokesman will only say the department is continuing to review the law but at the state department there was no backtracking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're saying she did not misspeak?

MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I'm saying her words stand for themselves.

MESERVE: Privately administration officials say a suit is planned. As one senior official put it bluntly, "Are we going to challenge the law? Yes, we are." The Arizona statute would require police investigating a crime to check immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion the individual is in the country illegally. Supporters hope it will discourage illegal immigration but civil rights groups say it violates the constitution and even if the federal government ultimately brings suit, they will, too.

CECILLIA WANG, ACLU IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS PROJECT: Whether or not the federal government jumps into the litigation, the law is unconstitutional and we look forward to stopping it in court.


MESERVE: The challenges will likely be filed in federal court in Phoenix just days before the law is slated to go into effect on July 28th. Wolf?

BLITZER: What grounds might the federal government use to challenge the law?

MESERVE: According to officials not the civil rights things brought up by some of the civil rights groups. Probably they're going to use the argument that it is the federal government's responsibility to police that border and enforce civil rights, excuse me, immigration laws, and the state is trying to usurp federal authority.

BLITZER: Sort of unusual though that the secretary of state would make the announcement.

MESERVE: Yes, very unusual. And I think there may be some unhappy campers at the department of justice.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.

How do Americans feel about Arizona's law and illegal immigrants? In our last opinion poll, 57 percent said they favor it. 37 percent said they opposed it.

For Democrats it's the gaffe that keeps on giving. GOP Congressman Joe Barton has backed off his accusation that the Obama administration engaged in a shakedown of BP by pressuring it to establish a huge compensation fund. Some fellow Republicans are still furious at Barton. Our senior Congressional correspondent Dana Bash is digging into this part of the story for us. It's not ending by any means, is it, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly doesn't seem to be Wolf. You know GOP house leaders forced Barton to take back his apology to BP. After yesterday on the house floor Republicans and the rank and file were coming up and saying they were politically worried and just plain mad. One Republican Congressman who sources tell us was visibly livid on the house floor yesterday says he still is and is taking it public.


BASH: Joe Barton may have recanted his apology to BP but some Republican colleagues from the gulf coast say not good enough. Alabama Republican Joe Bonner released a statement saying, "I am today calling on Joe to do the right thing for our conference and immediately step aside as ranking member of the energy and commerce committee." Bonner says Barton called him Friday morning to offer his personal apologies but Bonner says, "The damage of his comments are beyond repair." Those comments, accusing the white house of forcing BP to fork over what he called a $20 billion slush fund and saying, sorry, to BP.

REP. JOE BARTON (R), ENERGY & COMMERCE CMTE.: I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is again in my words amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize.

BASH: Congressman Jeff Miller, another gulf coast Republican, who was the first to call on Barton to step aside from his committee post says nothing is changed and Barton's comments show, "A complete lack of understanding of the magnitude of this crisis. Mr. Barton should step aside." As pressure mounts on Barton from within his own ranks, Democrats are trying to take advantage of what they call a political gift, a new TV ad by the Democratic National Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans apologizing to BP? Tell Republicans, stop apologizing to big oil.

BASH: And the man in charge of getting house Democrats elected says they intend to use this issue against GOP candidates.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, DCCC CHAIRMAN: We're going district by district to talk about this issue. And holding Republican members and their candidates accountable.

BASH: And he says Joe Barton is not alone. Republican Michele Bachmann on CNN's JK USA.

MICHELE BACHMANN: We don't think it is a good idea for the federal government to see private industry as essentially a piggy bank for the federal government.

BASH: Her Democratic opponent launched this new TV ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Bachmann lets BP off the hook, guess who's paying? Us. Michele Bachmann, standing up for BP, not us.


BASH: As for Joe Barton the question is will he be forced to step aside from his senior post on the house energy and commerce committee? House GOP leadership sources say in the short term not likely but, and this is interesting, Wolf, his term in that post as the ranking Republican on that committee is up next year. Traditionally somebody can ask for a waiver to stay in that position. And Republican sources at least one we talked to said it's going to be very tough for him to do that now.

BLITZER: We invited both of them to join us today, Joe Barton and Michele Bachmann. Unfortunately they couldn't but down the road I'm sure they will. Thanks very much for that Dana.

Imagine your taxpayer money going toward checks for dead people. Members of the Obama administration say it's been happening. We'll tell you what they're saying and what they're going to do to try to stop it.

Plus, new questions about a federal judge BP wants to oversee the lawsuits it's facing from the oil spill.

And their small success stories in the midst of a natural disaster. We're on the scene with some oil-soaked turtles getting a second chance at life.


BLITZER: Let's go back to Lisa. She is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on Lisa? LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well you could soon get to read through Supreme Court justice nominee Elena Kagan's e- mails. The Clinton library is releasing pages of e-mails as part of the preparations for her confirmation hearings. This is the final installment of documents related to her service as white house counsel during the Clinton administration. Hearings are scheduled to begin June 28.

Imagine this, your tax money going toward checks for dead people. Over the last three years the government sent about $180 million worth of benefit checks to deceased Americans. As a result, the Obama administration is announcing a do not pay list. Once the new data base is up and running agencies will have to search it first before sending out payments.

And the uh-oh Spaghettios is taking on new meaning. Campbell's soup is recalling canned Spaghettios with meatballs because of a possible under processing. The agricultural department says the recall includes certain cans with a date use by between June 2010 and December 2011. So far no illnesses have been associated with the products. That's a wrap. Wolf?

BLITZER: Better to be safe than sorry. All right. Thanks very much for that Lisa.

A controversial apology from one Republican Congressman to BP now putting the entire GOP on the defensive. Will there be any long-term fallout?

How worried should we be about new reports of methane in that gushing oil in the coast?


BLITZER: Welcome back to our strategy session. Joining us our CNN political contributors, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and the Republican strategist Ed Rollins. Ed, I'll start with you and I'll play a clip from the DNC. They just put out a new ad reacting to the Joe Barton comments that were made yesterday. Listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BP caused the worst oil spill in American history. Now at President Obama's direction BP set aside $20 billion for recovery on the gulf coast. If Republicans were in charge this is the guy who would be overseeing BP.

JOE BARTON: I apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He apologized to BP and called the recovery fund a tragedy.

BARTON: So I apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans apologizing to BP? Tell Republicans, stop apologizing to big oil. The Democratic National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising. BLITZER: The week started Ed with the Democrats and the president having a lot of political problems. The week now ending with the Republicans having potentially a lot of political problems. How big of a deal is this?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's a big deal and an embarrassment to Joe Barton who is a good friend of mine and I like very much. Obviously if he had his words back I'm sure he'd take them back. If we're still debating in the last weeks of October the oil spill I promise you the Obama administration and Democrats will pay a very heavy price. I think this is a one day or two day or four day story but at the end of the day it's not our administration that gave the approvals and I think each Congressional seat out there that's in jeopardy is going to basically be fought on issues of spending and other things.

BLITZER: I think that makes a fair point, Donna. In the end it's going to depend on is that oil stopping and is the cleanup moving along? That's what Americans want to see.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know what the Republicans failed to understand is that BP took responsibility for this oil spill. BP came forward and said they would pay back any legitimate claims and yet we know from stories on the gulf that many of the residents had not been made whole. And so the Obama administration this week stepped up to force or demand BP put aside $20 billion to ensure that those people, the businesses are paid back. If the oil spill is still going on in October, shame on BP and shame on everyone else that we could not contain the flow. Right now we're 200 feet from the relief well hitting hopefully the point so they can kill this gushing. And maybe, Wolf, maybe we can stop thinking about this in political terms and think about it in terms of how it's impacting the people on the gulf coast.

BLITZER: Let's hope that it works and stops and is cleaned up. People can go back to their way of life. I suspect that's going to take a long, long time given the disaster that has unfolded. On the political front, Republicans are very angry as you know at Joe Barton. Joe Bonner, Republican Congressman from Alabama, one of those gulf coast states, saying this. "I believe the damage of his comments are beyond repair and as such, I am today calling on Joe Barton to do the right thing for our conference and immediately step aside as ranking member of the energy and commerce committee." Do you think he will step aside, Joe Barton, or is he going to hold firm?

BRAZILE: I don't think he'll step aside and I don't think there will be any demand beyond what is already there. At the end of this term, Joe's tenure is up as the ranking member. If Republicans win the majority and it's a debate about who becomes the chairman of the committee and he certainly is a candidate, you might have this debate. I agree with Donna. I think we need to get politics out of this. I applaud the president for getting the $20 billion. I wish he had done it three weeks ago. I think he would have had a great speech in the oval office. He would have said I met with BP and they put this $20 billion up to take care of these people. That has to be the first priority of this president, this administration, Democrats and Republicans alike ought to be behind that.

BLITZER: Ed, do you have any problem at all with the subtext of what Joe Barton was saying, the attorney general Eric Holder participated in the negotiations leading up to the $20 billion escrow account and he's also simultaneously pursuing a criminal investigation of BP. Is there anything wrong with the appearance that he is involved in both?

ROLLINS: You know, I don't know legally. I'm not a lawyer. One of the few people who survived in Washington without being a lawyer. I do think it would have been smarter for him not to have been at the table. You certainly could have had justice represented. But he has become kind of a lightning rod and obviously he's got to do his job on many fronts. This is one big front. He'd have been better not to be in the room.

BLITZER: Do you agree, Donna?

BRAZILE: Wolf, this is the largest environmental disaster in American history. BP brought their lawyers. They've been resisting, resisting demands to set aside this money. Basically they wanted to run the claim process. They are not in the business of running a claim process. That would have been a conflict of interest. I don't care who is around the table. I care that they get this spill contained and make the people of the gulf whole. 11 people died. That should be a criminal scene. 11 people died. So I hope that we get it all right. Right now contain the gushing and, Wolf, I know you're going to have scientists on later to talk about the methane gas that might create a dead zone in the gulf. Look, I love oysters. Every Friday night I go out and get raw oysters. Now I have to go to Canada and other parts of the United States to get them. Please, let us get the gulf back. And by the way, this is a wonderful time to go down to the gulf. I was down south today. It's a beautiful time. Please, encourage people to go down to the gulf to continue our way of life.

BLITZER: I think a lot of people will go down to the gulf coast for their vacation. Precisely because they want to show solidarity with the folks down there. And as you point out most of those beaches are still pristine and beautiful.


BLITZER: Let's hope they stay that way. Guys, thanks very much. Have a great weekend.

BRAZILE: Wolf, happy father's day to you and Ed.

ROLLINS: Thank you very much. Good luck to all you New Orleans.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is asking does it feel like a recovery summer to you? Your e-mail and Jack just ahead. And the freeze on deepwater drilling as many face months of unemployment. Why some fear their jobs could be gone for years. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here is a look at some hot shots.

In New York, Pete of Canada flies past the statue of liberty as part of the red bull air race training day.

And India, a Hindu holy man smears colored paste onto his body in a temple.

Ethic women cross the border on their way back to a village. The world health organization says the crisis that could affect 1 million people.

And in Tokyo, an advanced robot is programmed with human like features.

Hot shots, pictures worth 1,000 words.

Let's go back to Jack for the Cafferty file.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of these days they will have one who can do the news.

BLITZER: Pretty soon. You and I will be out of business.

CAFFERTY: Just in time.

The question this hour is does it feel like a recovery summer to you? President Obama and Vice President Biden say that this is a recovery summer.

Steven in California says, "No way, as a small business owner in California, I can tell you that business in our industry is slow with no sign of recovery. It feels like a slap in the face when Biden is out there touting how well the stimulus package is working. Too bad they don't understand that you can't buy your way out of a recession.

Jerry in Georgia writes, "The disconnect is between the rhetoric and the action. Scintillating oratory won't change the situation. We need manufacturing and technical support jobs back on U.S. soil to reduce the deficit we need the world to buy things we are make. The world will not buy American roads. We need viable products. We had them once, but Washington gave them away."

Pat in Michigan, "Well, Jack, a long way to go, but my hometown car plant is running three shifts and overtime. I think Americans have realized that American products are getting better and keeping our money here at home is helping slowly and now if we can slow down the fearmongering in the media we may improve the outlook a little bit."

David says, "Absolutely not. I even found a good paying job after being laid off almost a year, but I feel like I could be out of a job any minute and I am saving my money now for the next round."

Patricia says, "Recovery summer? No, more like recovery nightmare. Obama must live in his own reality."

And Kim says, "We are definitely not in a recovery, the stimulus spending is the only thing keeping the economy from getting worse and that's due to start winding down in the fall. Just like in 1932 Republican deficit hawks will probably prevent any more stimulus spending which means we will bounce back into the recession/depression again just like we did in the 1930s."

Gary in Alabama sums it up this way, "Recovery summer my -- they are putting lipstick on a pig."

If you want to read more on this, go to my blog, Wolf?

BLITZER: Than you very much. Jack Cafferty. We will be back in a few moments.

While the oil covers the surface of the earth, and washing up on America's beaches, scientists are warning of an invisible threat from the disaster, a potentially deadly gas. Stand by.

And an ethnic conflict forces tens of thousands from their homes in a country where a strategic air base is crucial to America's Afghan effort.


BLITZER: A new jobs report released today gives us a snapshot of Louisiana's unemployment picture. The state's unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.9 percent in May. The state's job market added more than 11,000 positions but it is not enough to lower the unemployment rate.

Thousands of oil workers are facing months of unemployment because of the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but while BP is setting up a $100 million compensation fund for them, some say that their jobs could be gone for years and possibly forever. CNN's Chris Lawrence talked to some of them. He is in New Orleans.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look at what happened with one accident. We can't afford to have that happen ever again. Others wonder why the government can't inspect these rigs and then reopen them one by one as they pass the safety test. There is one vote left for this oilfield cleaning company, and one last bit of oil and drilling mud to scrub.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once this job is finished, this boat will not longer have a job, because of the moratorium.

LAWRENCE: That is how the dominoes fall. The president shuts down deepwater drilling which dry docks the boats that supply the rigs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We won't be able to clean this boat again, because it can't go off shore to bring the mud back to us to clean.

LAWRENCE: And they say that the president's six-month moratorium could kill the company on the 20th anniversary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By July or August, if deepwater drilling is not in effect, and these rigs are not working, we won't be working, and next week we won't be working.

LAWRENCE: But environmentalist Errin Vials is going to work.

ERRIN VIALS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS: Well, how can you look at that ecological might nightmare and say, let's keep going? We need answers.

LAWRENCE: President Obama has ordered a commission to inspect the deep water rigs and decide when it will be safe for drilling again.

VIALS: There shouldn't be a gun to the head of the commission saying look every week you take means 25,000 more jobs or something like that.

LAWRENCE: He says in addition to the $20 billion cleanup fund another $100 million has been set aside to pay the oil rig workers sidelined from the moratorium.

VIALS: That removes the pressure on the commission to do it quickly, and to instead do it well.

LAWRENCE: Your gut feeling, do the oil well companies stick around and wait out the moratorium?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some will. Some will. Those who can go overseas, they will go overseas. The rigs that go overseas, you are looking at two to five years before they are back this is not going to affect us for a few months, but for years.


LAWRENCE: The thing is that $100 million fund that BP set up is only for those directly on the rigs themselves and not for the thousands of supporting workers, so small businesses like hers will have to go through the claims process, and she feels even $10,000 here or there from the fund is not going to keep her in business if some of the oil companies leave the gulf. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Well, Chris Lawrence, thank you. You have seen the devastation and you've heard the complaints and now it is your chance to help. Join Larry King for an all-star relief effort to help rebuild the coast. The special two-hour Larry King live event takes place Monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.