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THE SITUATION ROOM
Blair's Take on America's Leaders; Where Did the Spilled Oil Go? Will GOP Investigate President Obama? GOP Drive to "Fire Pelosi"
Aired September 18, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: The filmmaker Michael Moore defends his provocative take on the planned Islamic center and mosque in New York. He tells me why he said the project should be built right on ground zero, not a just few blocks away.
Plus some Democrats fear the president will be the target of an investigation spree if Republicans win control of Congress. I'll ask a top House Republican if that's what he's planning.
And a former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he shares his private views on the U.S. Presidents he's worked with including the man he calls his soul mate.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Michael Moore's no stranger to controversy. His feelings about the proposed Islamic cultural center near ground zero in New York are no exception. The filmmaker has taken an uncompromising position on how that project should be handled.
And joining us now from Miami, the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.
Michael, thanks very much for coming in.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Thanks for having me, Blitz, I appreciate it. I can call you Blitz, now, can't I?
BLITZER: You can call me Blitz, you can call me Wolf, whatever you want, that's fine.
Let's talk about this latest article or blog that you wrote, because it sort of jumped out at me. You said you don't want the Islamic cultural center to be built near ground zero. You want it to be built on ground zero. Tell us why.
MOORE: I'm just so offended by the bullying that has been taking place, picking on people who make up a very small percentage of our population; and treating them as if they're not Americans. And they have every right to be in, near, around, at ground zero as anyone else. And I think -- I just got to thinking that, you know, the America that I believe in is an America that is generous of spirit, and not one that wants to attack people because of their religious faith. I personally feel very bad that these 19 murders of 9/11 who killed 3,000 people were able to hijack a religion, did something, what they said, was in the name of Islam, And -- and have made life very difficult for everybody else who is a member of this faith.
And I thought, what better way could we, those of us who are not of the Islamic faith, do to show our fellow Muslim-Americans that we so understand that these murders hijacked their religion from them, than to help restore the good name of their faith right there? Right there at ground zero. I mean, frankly, I never believed that their --
BLITZER: Let me just -
BLITZER: I was just going to say, let me interrupt for a moment. As you know, a lot of Americans think that they have every right to build a cultural center and mosque near ground zero, but they don't think it's necessarily appropriate. A brand new Quinnipiac University poll, for example, asked is it appropriate to build a mosque and Islamic center near ground zero? 28 percent said yes; 63 percent said no. Why do Americans -- why are they so opposed to this idea of building this mosque and cultural center near, not on, ground zero, but even near ground zero?
MOORE: Yeah, even near it. I think it's because we're -- we're a little slow on the uptake sometimes. Those are pretty much the exact numbers of the people at the beginning of the Iraq war, of 28 percent, 30 percent opposed it. And about 70 percent were in favor of it. We always seem to get it wrong at first, whether that was with slavery, killing Indians, women not voting. We're not very good at the beginning of these things.
We're really great, though, as we move along. We live in a nation where, sadly, people listen to things, they get afraid very easily. We have 40 million adult Americans who are functional illiterates, which means they can't read or write above the fourth grade level. That's the America we live in and sometimes we have to put up with that.
But everybody, regardless of their level of ignorance, I believe at their core is good and has a good heart. And if presented with the truth, and the truth is that Muslim-Americans are Americans the same as every other American -
BLITZER: What do you say, Michael, to a family of member of someone killed at ground zero, who says I don't really think this is appropriate? Look in the camera and tell us what you would say to that family member.
MOORE: I would say that I completely understand how you feel. If a member of my family was murdered, I live in a nation where they would not allow me to sit on the jury. Yet common sense kind of says to me, well, who better to judge those who took my family member's life than the family, itself, to get retribution?
We don't have a system like that, do we? The reason we don't is because -- is because we have to separate the emotion from it because sometimes if we just let emotion take over and run things, the wrong decisions get made. I went to mass yesterday, Wolf. Do you think I'm a pedophile sympathizer? Should I be judged because some priests committed a crime against children? Do you think less of me because of that or because Timothy McVeigh was a Catholic and blew up the Oklahoma City building? Should a Catholic Church not be allowed near the Oklahoma City building because he was Catholic?
I have to tell you, I remember the very first presidential election I remember. I was six years old. John Kennedy versus Richard Nixon. I remember, as six years old, hearing all this stuff about, if Kennedy was elected the pope was going to run the country. And I remember feeling like there was something wrong -- there was something bad about why was I bad because I was Catholic?
And this is our history and we have got to stop this. And those of us who are part of the majority have to always stand up for the minority when they're being bullied by people who are using this issue for their own political gain.
BLITZER: What did you think of the way the president, the commanding general in Afghanistan, General Petraeus, the news media, for that matter, handled the whole issue of that pastor in Florida who said he was going to burn a couple hundred copies of the Koran?
MOORE: Well, it's never good to have our general saying that we're afraid of anything. I mean, I just -- I got a whole other thing about that. We could do that -- I think another show on that. I just think when you're talking about burning the Koran, let me just point out, again, to my fellow Americans-80 percent of whom don't have a passport, never leave the country, never see the rest of the world, don't know anything about what's going on. I've had the good fortune to be able to get out of here and see a bit of this planet we live on.
The Koran has 25 different mentions of Jesus in that holy book, 25. They consider Jesus a messenger of God. Why would you burn a book that -- that beautifully mentions Jesus at least two dozen times? I mean, how many Americans even know that? It -- it really is just -- I just -- it just seems so crazy to me. I'm fed up with it. And felt I had to take a stand and say something about this. You know, Arabs and Muslims -- you know, they're 0.6 percent of our population.
Whenever the angry mob turns on a small group, it's best to know that when they're done with that group they're off to the next small group. So everybody should think about that, because we all belong to our own ethnic groups that either came to this country by choice or whose ancestors were brought here by force as slaves, or who were here originally as Native Americans. That's the melting pot of who we are and we should always stand up against the angry mob when they're trying to take away a basic inherent right of anybody in this country. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: Stand by for more of my interview with Michael Moore . He explains his offer to become the next White House chief of staff and why he thinks Democrats are wimps.
And new fears that the oil that seemed to vanish from the Gulf of Mexico is actually settling at the bottom of the sea.
And republicans borrow a page from "The Wizard of Oz" to blast the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We'll take a closer look at creative, even campy campaign ads.
BLITZER: The last big flurry of primaries before the midterm elections here I the United States has underscored the anti- incumbent/anti-Washington mood that has been sweeping. Democrats are on the defensive and there are predictions the GOP could retake both Houses of Congress. Let's get to more of my interview with Michael Moore.
BLITZER: Do Democrats deserve to lose big-time in November?
MOORE: Oh my God, no. I mean, I have a lot of problems with what the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress have done in terms of how they didn't go in as forcefully as they should have and really fought for some things that working people would have been so excited, enthused about this election right now they would have been out in droves going into every neighborhood, knocking on every door and getting people to come out and vote for the democrats.
They chose to go in weak which is what Republicans don't do. When Reagan or the Bushes, when they're elected, they come in and act like, OK, we're in charge, everybody out of the way. We come in and we're like, Kumbaya, you know, let's hold hands. That's a nice thing. It's what I think makes us nice people, but it may cost us dearly in November.
BLITZER: What was the problem, why did the country all of a sudden shift so dramatically over the past year and a half or so from the Democrats and President Obama, to what's going on now, if you believe so many of the public opinion polls?
MOORE: Well, it's because we have a short attention span. I mean, who won the MTV music awards last night? Do you remember? The other night? See, you forgot already, Wolf. We just don't -- we forgot already, at least it seems like a small majority of Americans may have forgotten that the mess we're in was not caused by Barack Obama.
The mess that we're in was caused by George W. Bush. He invaded a country that was no threat to this country and put us, what will be trillions of dollars in debt, eventually. Meaning we've totally screwed the future of our grandchildren. He presided over further deregulation of Wall Street and the banking industry that started under bill Clinton. And -- but he went -- Bush was like on steroids with letting the banks and Wall Street do whatever they want. He caused a huge crash that we're not out of the woods on yet. And frankly, we may even be heading toward another different form of crash. None of this was caused by Barack Obama.
BLITZER: I ask these questions, Mike -- I ask these questions, Michael, because in your most recent column you wrote you say you're complaining about what's going on. Do the Democrats deserve what they're about to get? You asked. You answer, absolutely. And I was a little confused by what you precisely meant by that.
MOORE: Well, they deserve it only in the sense that they brought a lot of this on themselves. Then I also, I believe, went on to say that we have a responsibility now to save the Democrats from themselves. They clearly haven't been able to figure out how to do it. We cannot go back. God forbid, to two years ago with the hell that we just came out of. If you want more of that, if you thought the first decade of this century was just, wow, really something, I guess go ahead and vote for the Republicans.
If you want John Boehner, let me just pause for a moment just to kind of visualize that, as your Speaker of the House, go for it. But I got to believe that most Americans by the time they get in the booth will go, they're going to walk in there and they're going to go, ah, these damn Democrats, why don't they have some guts? Why didn't they do this or that, but whoa I'm not going back to what we had. So I'm voting for the Democrat, damn it.
BLITZER: Why are so many Democrats running away from their vote on health care reform? And those Democrats who opposed it are sort of proud that they voted against it. You've seen these commercials.
MOORE: Because Democrats are wimps. I've said this for a long time. They don't have the courage of their convictions. It's what I've always admired about Republicans. Even when they're so wrong, I mean, they couldn't be more wrong and sometimes more stupid; they just keep doing the same thing because they believe in it. They're up at 6:00 in the morning. They're up at the crack of dawn, just banging away. And the only time our side sees the crack of dawn is when we've been up all night. So we're a little loosie-goosie when it comes to hardcore political action. We better get it together. What do we have now, wolf? We've got six some weeks, seven weeks? Not long.
And these Republicans, look, the best thing we got going for us is that the Republicans that are running are the Republicans who are running. They're pretty weird and scary to a lot of people, and I think people of good heart and who have got a good head, maybe they're a little mad that Democrats didn't do this, or should have done that. They're going to go, whoa, but we don't -- we can't have people that believe that, you knows, our children should be taught that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs.
BLITZER: Have you seen these stories that have come out in the last few days? That some of the major health insurers across the country, I ask you these questions because of your documentary "Sicko" and you are so passionate on this issue. Some of the major health insurance companies, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and others are about to raise premiums on individuals citing the Obama health care plan. Saying it's going to be more expensive and they have to raise premiums for a lot of average folks out there. Have you seen these stories?
MOORE: First of all, I don't have to see the story. Because I run a production company, I'm a small business person. And so I -- I've already seen my premiums be raised, the health care that I provide my employees. People's health care has already gone up. They jack it up whenever they can. These insurance companies are the epitome of evil.
And we will not really correct our health care problem in this country until we make it illegal, illegal to own or run a health insurance company. Because it's so paradoxical to say that it's for health when it's an insurance company whose main job is to make as much money as possible. And the best way to make as much money as possible is to deny care to as many people as possible that are part of the health insurance plan. That's how they make their bucks.
That's just a crazy system. That's got to go. Eventually that's got to go and that's where the Democrats messed up because they only went half way. You don't go half way. If you're going to end slavery, you end slavery. You don't say, we'll end slavery in these two states and we'll get to those two states. If you are going to give women the vote, you don't say we're going to give some of the women a vote this year, we'll try it out. And next year we'll try it out, a few more women can vote. That's not the way we do things. That's not the way this country gets better. So I'm just-I don't know what to say.
BLITZER: Let me wind up with a quick thought. Because in March you wrote a piece, at the time there were suggestions that Rahm Emanuel was going to be leaving the White House chief of staff job. You volunteered. You said you'd come in and replace Rahm Emanuel for a dollar a year, sleep on a cot in the White House basement. Well, apparently he's thinking seriously now of running for mayor of Chicago. Is your offer still on the table to become the next White House chief of staff?
MOORE: The offer's still there. Yes. Yes, the offer is still on the table. They don't have to give me that title. They can give it to somebody else. I'm just willing to come in, I'll work there every day, I'll get up with Obama, we'll get up at 6:00 in the morning, you know. I'll help light a fire under him. We'll get going. We'll get down -- you know, we'll get the job that needs to get done. We'll stand up for the American people, stand up for the working people, you know, have some guts. And that's what I think we need. So I'm willing to do that if the president's watching, I'll come help him out.
I'm already down here in Miami now. I'm working out with Lebron. I'm getting him ready for the basketball season. You know, working with him. And he's doing well. Let me say, I think The Heat are looking good this year. I'm doing my part to help him, you know, have the best season ever.
BLITZER: Yeah -- MOORE: By the way, can I say this about Lebron?
MOORE: That a lot of people criticized his decision. You know, for the young people watching, and young people do watch your show, right, Wolf?
BLITZER: There are some.
MOORE: OK. Lebron James didn't go with the biggest offer of money. He went with what would make him happy. He went where he thought he could win. And he went because he liked to play with his friends. That's a pretty good example to set. So I wish him well down here.
BLITZER: Well, I wish him well except when he plays the Washington Wizards, my team, when the Miami Heat come to Washington -- I'm looking forward to him coming, but I'd like to see the Wizards upset the Miami Heat. I know it's going to be a challenge.
MOORE: How about this, too, when the Islamic community center is finally built in downtown Manhattan, Wolf, you and I do a one-on-one game. I'm Catholic. You're Jewish. We'll do it in the Muslim Center. That's America. What do you say?
BLITZER: Basketball was never my strength. I got to tell you.
MOORE: Don't worry, you'll kick my ass, Wolf. Don't worry.
BLITZER: Michael Moore, thanks as usual for coming in.
MOORE: All right. Thank you.
BLITZER: So what happened to the millions of barrels of oil that gushed from BP's blown-out well? What if? What if a lot of that oil is now lying on the floor of the Gulf?
Plus, when the Iraq war began he was America's closest ally. Now Tony Blair, he talks about his counterparts in the White House. My interview with the former British prime minister, that's coming up.
BLITZER: He was America's closest ally when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq occurred back in 2003. He's now a special envoy for the major powers working for peace in the Middle East. The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is author of the brand new book entitled "A Journey: My Political Life." We spoke earlier this week.
BLITZER: How much time do you believe there is before Israel or the United States, separately or together, will have to use military force to deal with Iran's nuclear capabilities?
TONY BLAIR, FMR. BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: That's a really hard question to answer. I hope that the diplomatic route can work. I hope the sanctions will work. I hope the pressure from surrounding countries and from the U.S., hopefully from countries like Russia and China will work. And that the Iran regime will understand that when we say it's unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon we mean it. I hope.
BLITZER: You think it will?
BLAIR: I don't know. I honestly don't know, but what I do know, spending as I do a lot of time out in the Middle East today, is Iran with nuclear weapons capability is a very, very bad idea. It is a regime that is, well, whose values are not the values we have. It's a regime that already exports terrorism and instability around the region. You give such a regime, with the ideology they have, nuclear weapons capability and you've injected a vastly destabilizing, additional destabilizing dimension and element into a region that's already unstable.
BLITZER: As we're speaking right now, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell, the special U.S. envoy, they're meeting with the Israelis and Palestinians in Egypt, in Sharm el Sheik. I wouldn't have normally expected you to be there as well given your role as special envoy to these peace talks. It sort of suggests to me maybe not much is happening if Tony Blair isn't there. Tell us your assessment, is there going to be a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians within the next year?
BLAIR: Actually I was out in Jerusalem just a couple of days ago. I literally come to New York from there. And yes, there is every possibility. I mean, the work that I do is really on the bottom-up stuff, with the Palestinians, with the Israelis to build the Palestinian economy, to build the institutional capacity, to try to make sure the lives of Palestinians are improved. And we get support for the political process from the changes made on the ground.
But the political negotiation that Senator Mitchell and Secretary Clinton are conducting at the moment, yes, it has a real PR prospect of success. We have to get through this issue to do with the settlements and the moratorium, which I was discussing with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president's ambassador a couple days back.
But if we can, then yes, we have every possibility. And you know, the one thing that is clear about this process is that without the chance, the prospect of a peaceful solution to the Israeli/Palestinian issue, the prospects of peace in the whole region are much reduced.
BLITZER: In your book, "A Journey: MP political Life," you write about a meeting you had with then-president bill Clinton in February 1998. I was then the senior White House correspondent for CNN. You had a joint news conference with him. Ironically, or maybe historically a footnote, on WMD in Iraq at the time. The two of you were there, we're showing our viewers a picture, of some video. You were much younger looking, both of you. BLAIR: I was, wasn't I?
BLITZER: But I remember, and I'm sure you do, and you write about it in the book, it was days after the name Monica Lewinsky surfaced. It was an awkward moment for you personally as the visiting British prime minister having to deal with question after question after question to then President Clinton about Monica Lewinsky as opposed to WMD in Iraq. What was that like? You remember that joint news conference.
BLAIR: I do. Thank you for demonstrating to your viewers the aging process so graphically by the old footage. Look, for me it was perfectly simple. I was a supporter of President Clinton's. I am. I think he was a great president. He was a great ally. For me I was -- whatever the issues there, and people were asking questions about, I actual was -- we were talking about Iraq, WMD, the threat from Saddam.
I mean, people sometimes forget it was President Clinton, not President Bush, that made regime change in Iraq American policy. For perfectly good reasons, by the way. So I don't -- it was a personal matter to me and not something that troubled or embarrassed me. I was perfectly happy with the relationship I had with President Clinton on the issues I was working with him on.
BLITZER: You worked with him. You worked with President Bush. Now you're working with President Obama. Do you want to characterize these three American leaders? Their strengths, their weaknesses?
BLAIR: Well, they're different. I don't suppose that's a great incite. Look, I think, you know, they are very different people. President Bush I dealt with -- he's from a different staple of politics for me. I found him straightforward and strong, and I agree with him on the basic security threat.
President Clinton, we were more political soulmates if you like, progressive politicians, very much involved in the kind of third-way politics, how you get Democrats in the Labor Party in a centrist political position.
With President Obama it's been very much focused on the Middle East peace process. The great thing that President Obama's done, and I think people underestimate this, is he made it a priority from the beginning of his presidency, and that's the key thing.
That's what gives us the chance, now, to push ahead and to get a solution. Because the problem both President Clinton in the year 2000, President Bush, 2007/2008, it's a lot tougher for the president to really make progress when it's the end of the presidency.
BLITZER: One final question on the book, this has caused a little bit of a stir. "The New York Times" has written about it, other newspapers. A quote in the book that supposedly, or at least the allegation was lifted from the movie "The Queen."
I don't want you to clarify it. In the book, you write about your first meeting with Queen Elizabeth II. She says to you according to your book, "A Journey," "you are my tenth prime minister, the first was Winston that was before you were born." In the movie, the quote, Helen Moran playing Queen Elizabeth II, the movie, "The Queen," "you were my tenth prime minister, Mr. Blair. My first was Winston Churchill."
The man who wrote the screenplay for the movie says he made that up and that he alleges you stole that from the movie. Go ahead and clarify that what exactly happened.
BLAIR: Well, I'm happy to clarify it. You know, I've been using that story for years. So as a matter of fact, I haven't actually seen the movie "The Queen." My wife has, my kids have and the rest of it. I don't know a fair amount about what's in it, but I haven't seen it. So I'm afraid I was the person there, so I know what she said.
BLITZER: And so he didn't actually make it up? He had maybe gotten indirect word, a quote from you and that's why it showed up in the movie before the book?
BLAIR: Wolf, to be honest, I don't know, but what I do know is I've used that story over the years many, many times because it happens to be true.
BLITZER: OK. The book is entitled "A Journey: My Political Life." The author is Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. Good interview, good discussion. Good luck with the book. Thanks very much and good luck with peace in the Middle East. I know you're working hard on that.
BLAIR: Thank you very much, Wolf, all the best.
BLITZER: Bill Clinton brings world leaders together in New York City for his Clinton global initiative this coming week. I'll be there. I'll go one on one with the former president. My interview with Bill Clinton Tuesday right here in "The Situation Room."
What happened to all that oil? More than 4 million barrels escaped from that blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico. Now there are new clues on the bottom of the Gulf.
And the wicked witch of the west is back. It's one of the campaign season's most unusual political ads.
BLITZER: Efforts to permanently seal BP's blown-out well are in the final stage after drilling resumed this week on a relief well.
But what happened to the more than 4 million barrels of oil which gushed into the Gulf? What if? What if a lot of that oil is now lying on the bottom? Our Brian Todd is looking into that -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these scientists have been showing us samples of this oil from the sea floor in the Gulf. Evidence they say that much of the oil from the deepwater horizon spill may not have been dispersed, and may pose a long-term threat.
TODD (voice-over): A deepwater CSI in the Gulf and a potentially ominous finding. Researchers discover what they say is a substantial layer of oil in the sediment in areas near the deepwater horizon spill.
The team, led by a University of Georgia Marine Science professor, canvassed an area as close as two miles from the wellhead and as far away as about 80 miles. In several samples from the sea floor, they found concentrations of oil seeping as much as two inches into the sediment.
(on camera): We're going to go to the source of this new finding. We're going to speak to Dr. Samantha Joye on a research vessel, about 10 miles south, about 25 nautical miles east of the wellhead. She's on the research vessel, "The Oceanas." We're going to call that now.
(voice-over): I asked Joye about other scientists who question her findings, including those who say so much oil seeps into the Gulf naturally every year that some of this might not be from the deepwater horizon spill.
SAMUEL WALKER SR., NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: There's spillage from other vessels. There's leakage from pipelines. There are all sorts of things like that, and to find oil in the Gulf of Mexico either in its sediments or in the water column is not an unusual thing.
TODD (on camera): How do you come to believe that the oil you found is from the Gulf oil spill and the BP situation?
SAMANTHA JOYE, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA RESEARCHER (via telephone): We have samples that were collected in May, early in May from many of the same sites that we're sampling right now. In May, this layer was not present. It was not here. This layer has developed over the past four months.
TODD (voice-over): Joye concedes they won't know for sure that this oil is from the deepwater horizon spill until they chemically fingerprint it when they get back to their labs.
Joye discovered dead organisms underneath the oily sediment and worries about marine life that would feed off the organisms.
(on camera): What kind of organisms are exposed to the oil?
JOYE: Well, anything that forges to the bottom, I mean any fish, any invertebrate, any squid, octopus, anything that is going to the bottom looking for food is going to be exposed to the material.
TODD (voice-over): Then Joye says that could deprive other fish up the chain from a healthy food source.
TODD: Last month, the government released a study saying much of the oil from the spill had either been captured, evaporated naturally or had dispersed into the water column in microscopic droplets. So do Dr. Joye's findings contradict that?
Not necessarily. An official with NOAA tells us the oil she found may be in the remaining 25 percent of the oil that got away - Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thank you. Could President Obama and the Democrats become the prime targets of investigations if the Republicans win control of the House in November? I'll ask the ranking member of a powerful congressional oversight committee. That's coming up.
As the midterm campaign season heats up we'll show you some new and most unusual political ads.
And in flood-ravaged Pakistan, stranded children await rescue. One of our hotshots.
BLITZER: If Republicans win control of the House of Representatives in November, some Democrats fear newly empowered GOP lawmakers will launch an investigation spree with President Obama as a prime target.
Let's discuss with the California congressman who's been at the center of a lot of this speculation, Congressman Darrell Issa. He's the senior Republican of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Got it right.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA, (R) OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: Thanks, Wolf. If we take control, I'd like to change the name back to Government Reform and Oversight because we really are the committee that's supposed to decide how government is organized and accountable.
BLITZER: This is the committee that your colleague from California, Henry Waxman chairs right now. A lot of subpoena power, a lot of investigation power, if you will.
"Newsweek" recently wrote this. Republicans have a good chance to win control of the House of Representatives this fall, and Issa, that would be you, will likely lead the Oversight Committee with unfettered subpoena power.
That means Democrats should expect investigations into the president's staff, his appointees and every policy he promotes not to mention his response to crises like the BP spill. Is that what Democrats can expect?
ISSA: Not at all. Actually, you mentioned Henry Waxman. Henry Waxman has been off the committee for two years. You wouldn't notice it because the gentleman who replaced him, Ed Towns, is in the party of the president. So it's have been very, very quiet. That's one of the challenges is we're supposed to be the committee that looks at government, the bureaucracy, its continuous failures. We have 74 IGs, inspector generals who are to a great extent partners along with the General Accountability Office.
We're supposed to do what we did in '05, look at Mineral Management Service and it's too cozy relationship with - with the oil companies and then we're supposed to do the reform.
In other words, our failure wasn't that we didn't figure out MMS was dysfunctional, but over those intervening years, we didn't fix it and ultimately BP is not about the failure in the gulf. It's about MMS's failure ever since Reagan --
BLITZER: The bureaucrats who working there, career civil servants, if you will. But I got to tell you, there are plenty of Obama administration officials who are very worried right now.
That if you become the chairman of this committee, they can expect -- they're going to have to start hiring personal lawyers because you'll be subpoenaing them for records and for tapes and for everything else.
Sort of going back to the days of the Clinton administration where Dan Burton and other Republican members of Congress were leveling, were issuing subpoenas left and right.
ISSA: Well, the era of Dan Burton and era of people taking the fifth, leaving the country and in some cases going to jail is an era I hope none of us repeat.
In other words, the crimes that went on shouldn't repeat and neither should the subpoenas, but Dan Burton had a special time in which subpoena after subpoena was required because nobody would answer questions without them.
During Tom Davidson's chairmanship and Henry Waxman's chairmanship and even time that I was a subcommittee chairman, we almost never issued subpoenas. We almost always got the answers we wanted and we worked cooperatively, particularly with the inspectors general.
Now, Wolf, there's one reform I need about subpoenas. I'd like to bring it up here tonight. Only one inspector general, these people are appointed and confirmed either by the president and the Senate or by the cabinet, only one inspector general has subpoena authority.
I don't really need the subpoena authority. They do. They need to get answers on behalf of, in fact, the people they work for and right now except for the Department of Defense, none of them have this.
BLITZER: These are inspectors general who work for the Justice Department, the State Department, housing or whatever? You're saying they deserve to have subpoena authority.
ISSA: Absolutely. Presidential appointees should have the ability to get to the bottom quickly. If they have the authority like the Department of Defense, IG, they almost never need to use it. But we need the IGs to get answers. I don't need to be looking at every failure of government. I need to be looking at where failure of government needs reform. You bring it back to Congress and we fix it.
That's the reason I'm excited about the committee. I was excited when I was in the majority before. I was even excited at times when Henry Waxman went after real problems.
BLITZER: You know, "The New York Times" recently called you, I'm quoting now, "annoyer in chief" referring to annoying the Obama administration. Is that a badge of honor from your perspective?
ISSA: Wolf, in the minority it is. If you try to hold the administration accountable from the minority when you have no power, the most I can do is get the press to ask a lot of questions and annoy them.
Ultimately, I have no authority. In the majority, yes, I want government to do what it's supposed to do and nothing more. I want it to do on time what they're supposed to.
You know, FEMA was a failure recognized by Katrina and Rita. No question at all. Are you saying it's a success today after the gulf situation? Probably not.
BLITZER: You're measuring the curtains already in that new office you might be getting?
ISSA: No, because Ed Towns and I have worked really closely together. He's helped get me subpoenas and get me information time and time again.
Our relationship, you haven't heard much about it, but for the most part when we went into the details with Toyota, when we got the chairman, himself, Akio Toyoda, to come here and make the promise to the American people, that this was going to be fixed on his watch.
I think we did something without a subpoena, without a lot of hoopla, but at the same time we got Secretary Lahood to commit and begin the process of fixing NHTSA. That's what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to do it together whenever possible.
BLITZER: The National Highway Transportation Safety --
ISSA: No acronyms.
BLITZER: Darrell Issa, congressman from California, thanks for coming in.
ISSA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lions and tigers and the most unusual political ads of the season. That's coming.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Check out the new drive by Republicans to fire the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This week, the party kicked off a 48-state, seven-week bus tour as part of their campaign to win back control of the House.
For her part, Pelosi insists the midterm election has nothing to do with her and she says she's as confident as ever that Democrats will hold on to the majority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: I'm not yielding one grain of sand. I want to have the same big, strong majority we have. But I feel certain that we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Despite those words, the speaker is just one of many politicians finding themselves in a most unusual spot when it comes to the latest commercials this campaign season. Here CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to this season's campaign commercials, the best remake of a classic award --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll get you, my pretty.
MOOS: Goes to the Republican who tried to get Nancy Pelosi by portraying her as the wicked witch of Oz. But she can't save herself from Pelosi's opponent --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for saving us. Who are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm John Dennis. I'm running for Congress.
MOOS: He's run into criticism --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Saying that, you know, you're a sexist pig.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel that way?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
MOOS: This season's most oddball ads have featured tattoos, lunchboxes, sneakers, scary old people --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to have to answer to us.
MOOS: Fake babies --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, I can't do this.
MOOS: And even demon sheep.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he what he tells us or is he what he's become over the years a wolf in sheep's clothing.
MOOS: The sheep in this case was slaughtered by Republican Carly Fiorina. Best horror remake goes to a doctor running for Congress who portrayed his opponent as Frankenstein. Frankenstein won. Too negative for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't stand negative ads. Every time I see one, I feel like I need to take a shower.
MOOS: Democrat John Hickenlooper is the cleanest candidate for governor of Colorado.
(on camera): This was an ad that required the candidate to make at least six wardrobe changes.
(voice-over): And when we say six wardrobe changes, we're not counting the hat. The best shot award goes to this Arizona congressional candidate --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conservative Christian and a pretty fair shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Pamela Gorman and I approve this message.
MOOS: Some ads are so much - they invite parity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bet you didn't know that. Well, it's true but it ain't because I made it up.
MOOS: At least this candidate for Alabama Agriculture commissioner didn't open fire --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Dale Peterson, I'll name names and take no prisoners.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll kill a man. I'll put a gun right in someone's mouth and say you need more lead in your diet.
MOOS: Both gun taunting contenders lost, but guns don't kill campaigns. Candidates do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me the Republican nomination for ad commissioner or I'll shoot you.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: A lion in Switzerland takes time out for a nap. Just one of our hotshots.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this week's "Hot Shots." In Pakistan, children stranded by floodwaters watch for a rescue helicopter. In the west bank, a farmer shakes his sesame crop to collect the seeds. In New York, a model gets ready to walk the runway during fashion week.
And in Switzerland, check it out, an Indian lion rests his head on a rock. Some of this week's "Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.
Remember this programming note, Bill Clinton brings world leaders together for his Clinton Global Initiative in New York City this coming week. I'll be there to go one-on-one with the former president. My interview with Bill Clinton Tuesday right here in "The Situation Room."
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us weekdays in "The Situation Room" from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern and every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. At this time every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.