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BP Tries "Cut and Cap" Again; White House Facing Questions about Floating Jobs to Democratic Senate Candidate; McCartney Serenades First Lady; Detox Your House
Aired June 3, 2010 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Thanks so much for being with us on this AMERICAN MORNING.
It's Thursday, June 3rd. Glad you're with us. I'm Kiran Chetry.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm John Roberts.
Lots going on to tell you about today and here are the big stories we'll be outlining in the next 15 minutes.
A snag in the cut and cap operation in the Gulf. The oil giant is preparing to try once again to cut a leaking riser in half. Only this time, they'll have to use a less-precise blade than that diamond band saw. It's the last desperate attempt to contain this catastrophic oil spill.
CHETRY: The White House is facing questions about possibly floating jobs to another Democratic Senate candidate, this time former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The White House is already dealing with the unsuccessful attempt to getting Joe Sestak to drop out of the Pennsylvania race. We're going to talk about whether these offers are unethical and what happened to the promise of transparency.
ROBERTS: An imperfect call at the worst possible moment. Detroit Tigers' pitcher, Armando Galarraga denied a perfect game last night by an umpire's clear error -- there he is right there -- leaving fans across America clamoring for instant replay in baseball and calling on Commissioner Bud Selig to right an obvious wrong.
CHETRY: And, of course, the amFIX blog is up and running. Join the live conversation now. Go to CNN.com/amFIX.
ROBERTS: Right now, BP is preparing once again to slice a leaking oil riser at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico in half. But the cut and cap operation has already suffered a setback, and oil will likely be leaking into the Gulf through the summer.
You are looking at live pictures of fresh crude relentlessly pouring from a broken well on the ocean floor. Thirty-seven percent of the Gulf waters is now off-limits to fishing because of the spill. Mexico is on high alert. Five states in that country are closely monitoring the slick in case it threatens their shores.
Demonstrations against BP are planned in 50 U.S. states today. Protestors want the company's assets seized immediately.
Meanwhile, BP is running ads on television apologizing for the spill and promising to makes things right.
Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, the Coast Guard's national incident commander, Admiral Thad Allen, said we should know more about the success of the cut and cap operation in the next couple of hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD: They'll make that attempt later on this morning. The top hat device is suspended over the top of the cutting device right now from a ship above. And we're waiting to see what happens.
We've always said that the real fix to this thing is going to be a relief well. That's going to be drilled to relieve the pressure and to be able to cap it. And that won't happen until sometime in August. That said, there's no reason why we can't contain this oil in the meantime and we are using all means available to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Let's bring in our David Mattingly. He's live in New Orleans this morning.
And, David, the admiral clearly not raising anyone's expectations that this is going to be fully over until those relief wells are drilled. That could be August.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's making it clear we need to be prepared for a long and oily summer here in the Gulf of Mexico.
Because that diamond saw failed in its job to give a clean and precise cut across the top of that pipe, now they're going to have to go with a containment strategy that's not going to have as tight a seal. So, that means that there is going to be the chance that oil is going to be leaking out daily from this containment system into the Gulf of Mexico. How much oil? A thousand barrels a day, 5,000 barrels a day -- nobody knows at this point.
But right now, we're looking at the idea that this less precise cut will be allowing for oil to be escaping into the Gulf of Mexico at some degree until August when that relief well is complete.
ROBERTS: And all of the presidents of the parishes are clamoring and quite vocally for more of these berms to be built, to protect the wetlands so the oil can't get in there. And Admiral Allen has rung in called with BP, ordering them to pay for the construction of these berms?
MATTINGLY: That's right. The U.S. government gave the go-ahead for these berms to be built, about six of them going up in areas where they feel like they'll do the best long-term -- the best long-term benefit to protect Louisiana from this oil. And now, the admiral is ordering BP to pay this. BP says, yes, we are going to pay the bill for this. They are looking at millions to pay for these six berms.
But it's something the governor has been pushing for for weeks now, saying this is going to be our best long-term defense against this oil, because Louisiana has already been dealing with it for weeks, and now, because of what we're hearing about the containment system down that they're working on now, they're going to be continuing to deal with it for the rest of the summer.
ROBERTS: David Mattingly for us this morning in New Orleans -- David, thanks so much. On CNN tonight, Larry King has an exclusive interview with President Obama, from economic turmoil and battling two wars, to managing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The president shares his thoughts on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight, 9:00 Eastern.
CHETRY: Six minutes past the hour. The crisis over Israel's blockade of Gaza could flare yet again in the next 48 hours. Right now, Israel is defending itself, saying that it was in the right when intercepting the Turkish flotilla trying to bypass the blockade.
But now, another ship, this one from Ireland, is on its way to Gaza. It is called the Rachel Corrie named after an American activist killed in Gaza several years ago. It is bringing 550 tons of cement, educational supplies, toys and medical equipment. The ship is expected to arrive late tomorrow or early Saturday.
The Irish government is asking Israel not to interfere. Israel's military is warning any ship resisting capture and refusing to stop could be attacked.
ROBERTS: The prime suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba five years ago is a wanted man this morning. Authorities in Peru say they have incriminating evidence that ties Joran van der Sloot to the murder of a 21-year-old woman. Her body was found in a hotel room that was registered in his name.
The crime comes, as we said, five years after Holloway vanished on the island of Aruba. No one has been even charged in that case, even though an undercover video caught van der Sloot admitting his involvement.
CHETRY: Well, the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is said to begin today. Blagojevich is accused of trying travel to raffle President Obama's former Senate seat for profit. Yesterday, he tweeted, quote, "I am innocent and look forward to clearing my name." The White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, both been subpoenaed to testify for the defense.
ROBERTS: Well, it was a moment of sheer perfection spoiled by an umpire's blown call in the last play. Last night in the Motor City, Detroit Tigers' pitcher, Armando Galarraga, experienced a rare brush with immortality, right here, only to have it snatched away because the umpire said he was safe.
He retired 27 consecutive batters only to have the last out incorrectly ruled safe by umpire Jim Joyce. CHETRY: CNN contributor and HBO sports analyst, Max Kellerman, is here with us this morning.
You know, a lot of people were getting our blogs. People are reading it and saying, where was this umpire anyway? Did he even see it? And they're all saying that this should be reversed, they should give the kid a perfect game.
MAX KELLERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I understand that point of view. I don't think it's impossible that Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, does overturn it. I think it's unlikely. But Bud Selig has made unpopular decisions in the past, rightly and wrongly. He called an all-star game a tie, an extra inning, which there are no ties in baseball. Everyone thinks that was a bad decision.
He ushered in the era of the wild card in baseball, which has become very popular.
ROBERTS: That was great.
KELLERMAN: I agree. And I was a purist who thought -- no wild card in baseball. But he was right, and a lot of people are wrong. So, I don't think -- he's the type that I don't think it's impossible he would overturn this. But it's unlikely.
ROBERTS: All right. So, what do you think -- I mean, the poor umpire this morning, he's got to be feeling just awful about it, because clearly, when you look at the replay, it was a bad call. And he's realized that.
KELLERMAN: And part of the reason he must feel awful is because more and more becomes about him, becomes about Jim Joyce. I think the most interesting thing about this is he did -- Jim Joyce did in the moment what he thought was right. He upheld his ethical responsibility under pressure, not to really, but in a close play, normally, you'd think, well, in these circumstances, a perfect game, a close play is going to go to the pitcher, you know, it's not going to go to the offensive team. It preserves a perfect game.
Jim Joyce did what he thought was right, but he did blow the call as it turns out and it spoiled the perfect game.
This is in stark contrast to the 1956 World Series where the umpire Babe Pinelli is calling Don Larsen's perfect game, in the World Series. The pitch is clearly a ball. His ethical responsibility in the moment is to call it a ball. He calls it a strike.
He goes back -- so, his blown call preserved a perfect game. He weeps in the locker room.
Jim Joyce also wept in the locker room for the opposite reason. But the great famed evolutionary biologist Steven Jay Gould wrote a very interesting articles years after the Larsen perfect game, asking as truth spot or circumstance. In other words, there is an ethical responsibility to do what you think is right, but isn't there a larger kind of responsibility, given the circumstance. Gould argued that there is a larger responsibility and maybe I agree with him, but in terms of strict ethics, Jim Joyce did the right thing -- even though he got the call wrong.
CHETRY: But enter modern technology, and you have the ability to do instant replay. I mean, they do it in football. It's not done all the time in baseball. And there are renewed calls to bring instant replay in those situations. What about that?
KELLERMAN: It's possible that this could lead to that. But the games are already very long. Right now, they only use it for home run calls.
Interesting to me, too, is there's never been more than one perfect game in a season. This would have been -- maybe was -- the third perfect game this season. And the question is: why?
And I think it's because, at least my best answer is, I'm reminded of an article from the "Science Times" several years ago about these gazelles that were running faster than they needed to to avoid predators. Usually, prey want just fast enough. These gazelles were running way faster than they needed to. And the question was: why?
And the answer was, they were run willing from ghosts. They were running saber tooth tigers who are no longer alive and were very fast.
So, now -- but they continue -- and I think that's what's going on in baseball, given the performance-enhanced era, steroids and human growth hormones, which seem to be more of a boon for hitters than pitchers. Now that that seemingly is being phased out, these pitchers have had to adapt to maybe a little better than they needed to be.
ROBERTS: To be better players. Right.
KELLERMAN: To be better players, who no longer existed.
ROBERTS: But the perfect game isn't just pitcher, though. It's the whole team.
KELLERMAN: Absolutely. Yes. And there's an answer for that, too, involving defensive metrics. But, now, John, it starts to get very complicated.
KELLERMAN: A prioritary (ph) defensive metrics --
ROBERTS: We need to do an hour this to elevate this conversation to a whole new level.
KELLERMAN: Well, I appreciate that, sir. Thank you.
ROBERTS: All right. Thanks.
CHETRY: And the gazelles thank you, too. Like you said, when an asterisk (ph) find their names.
KELLERMAN: Science guys are the ones we should thank.
CHETRY: Thanks, Max.
All right. Well how should Major League Baseball respond?
A lot of you guys have been e-mailing at our blog, CNN.com/amFIX, saying, give Detroit something to cheer about, come on, make it a perfect game.
And there are others who say, nope, it shouldn't be that way. The call is the call.
So, we'd like you to weigh in as well.
ROBERTS: First, Joe Sestak. Now, Andrew Romanoff? White House is facing more questions over deal-making to keep people out of the election campaign. We'll find out what that one is all about.
It's 12 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Fourteen minutes after the hour. A look at the White House this morning, where right now, it's pretty sunny and 76 degrees. It won't remain that way, though. Later on today, scattered thunderstorms and hot with a high of 89.
Hot and stormy politically there as well. Because right now the west wing facing questions about possibly floating jobs to another Democratic senate candidate to keep him out of the race. This time, former Colorado house speaker Andrew Romanoff. He said a senior aide suggested last year that three administration jobs might be open to him if he didn't run against fellow democrat Michael Bennett in the August primary.
Well senior administration official telling CNN, there was no job offer. The White House is already dealing with the unsuccessful attempt to getting congressman Joe Sestak to drop out of the Pennsylvania race against Senator Arlen Specter. Well joining us is to talk more about this is Melanie Sloan. She's the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
All right Melanie first Joe Sestak, now Romanoff, what's going on here?
MELANIE SLOAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS: Well what is clearly going is the White House was working to clear the field for preferred candidates. First Arlen Specter and then Michael Bennett, costly primaries are divisive and not helpful to the party. And I'm sure that is what they were trying to avoid in the Romanoff case. ROBERTS: Right now Romanoff was given a list of three potential jobs that might be open to him if he chose not to stay in the race. There were two jobs at USAID. One is the director of the U.S. trade and development agency but the White House insist, oh he was never promised a job. We just told him what was available. Is there anything improper in that?
SLOAN: There is really nothing improper in that. One of the things that is so odd about this story and the Sestak story is that people are surprised that the political appointments are given out for political reasons. Well that's how these jobs are given out in any administration going back to the beginning of administrations. Politicians get political appointments. Romanoff had apparently applied for a job through the transition office and Massena then called him to check in and see if he wanted those jobs. Obviously, Massena was doing it to try and keep Romanoff out of the primary. Although it was before he had announced that he was definitely running. But Romanoff declined and said he wasn't interested and wanted the Senate seat.
ROBERTS: Right, OK, we often, as you said, hear about jobs given to people who have done good things politically. You know a lot of big fund-raisers end up as the ambassador to France. Or whatever but is it a little unusual to hear about these jobs to keep them out of primaries to keep them from challenging the White House's preferred candidate?
SLOAN: I think what is unusual about this situation is that we are learning about it. I suspect this happens all the time. But usually, the folks who are offered those jobs or who have those kinds of discussions with the White House don't make that public. And that's really what's so unusual here. We're getting behind the closed doors.
ROBERTS: Yes we also hear about how far from the White House were these things, actually? For example, in the case of Joe Sestak, when they were trying to convince him not to run against Arlen Specter was former President Bill Clinton who was dispatched to have the conversation with Sestak. But this is the deputy White House chief of staff, Jim Massena, who is talking to Romanoff. This brings this right inside the gates and the walls of the White House. How does this make it different if it does?
SLOAN: Well it is certainly clear that the White House was behind this. And Massena wouldn't have gone off on his own to talk to Romanoff about potentially taking a different job to avoid the senate primary fight. But Bill Clinton too is directed by the White House so the White House was behind all of this. But the fact of the matter is, even if the White House was behind this, there is really nothing wrong with that. This is pure politics. This is the way things work in Washington. And there is certainly nothing illegal about it.
ROBERTS: Is there anything unethical about it?
SLOAN: I think it may look a little unseemly, because we are seeing how the sausage is made, we are seeing behind the closed doors into the back rooms, what really goes on. But what do people really think happens with all these political appointments? I mean the truth is, Washington is not totally a meritocracy. It is not always the best qualified person who gets the job in any administration. It is often these are rewards to favorite politicos.
ROBERTS: You are suggesting that there is nothing illegal about this. Republicans are taking a bit of a different attitude toward it. They have asked the Department of Justice to investigate the Sestak case. Now that this has Romanoff case has come out, do you think they are going to call for a full-blown investigation, maybe not just the DOJ but congressionally as well?
SLOAN: Absolutely. That's 100 percent certainly. This is a great issue for them to jump on, part of the reason is the Obama White House has said it was going to behave differently than other White Houses, more transparent, more ethical than everyone else. And this shows they were horse trading, just like everyone else. It is a great issue for the Republicans that want to dirty up the administration.
ROBERTS: And in a country that seems to becoming increasingly frustrated and less tolerant of business as usual in Washington, do you think this helps Romanoff ahead of the primary?
SLOAN: Romanoff was already doing better than Bennett in the primary. It looks good for him that he declined the offer. But on the other hand Democrats may not be too happy that he made this public in the first place. So it is really hard to say how this will play out. But what it does do is it distracts from other issues for the White House. They are going to have to be dealing with this just like the Sestak affair and it will become big news all over again.
ROBERTS: Melody Sloan, great to talk to you this morning, thanks so much for joining us.
SLOAN: Thank you.
CHETRY: All right well "Making It A Man's World." Women in the construction industry. We are going to visit one woman trying to help America rebuild at ground zero.
CHETRY: Welcome back to The Most News In The Morning, 23 minutes past the hour. Time for "Minding Your Business," and this week we are taking a special look at how women are making it in a man's world.
ROBERTS: Construction may be mostly a male domain but women are making their mark in the building and other trades, their hard hats breaking through the glass ceiling. Here is Deb Feyerick.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): John, Kiran, look at any construction site anywhere in the country, and the one thing you are likely to notice there are not many women on the job. Well a small, determined group is trying to change that, finding satisfying careers as ironworkers, operating engineers, and other trades not normally considered female friendly.
(voice-over): Meet 38-year-old Alex Coveleski an apprentice dock builder, laying floors, and putting up walls at ground zero. She is also a modern dancer. Skills she is finding helpful with her new profession.
ALEX COVELESKI, CONSTRUCTION WORKER: You have to be able to duck the rebar and watch your step and get out of someone's way and still be working. So it always feels like a dance to me.
FEYERICK (on camera): When you tell people that you work in construction and that you are building here at the world trade center site, do they believe you?
COVELESKI: I have met some people who are really surprised.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Women make up just two point three percent of construction laborers. On any given day, Coveleski is one of only 10 women working alongside 1,500 men. Some of them second and third generation tradesman trained by their fathers and grandfathers.
(on camera): So why do the women do it? Well, for the same reason as men. The pay is good. There is a really strong union and once you prove yourself, there are guys that will watch your back.
COVELESKI: These walls are going to be shot with concrete.
FEYERICK (voice-over): A year ago, Coveleski knew little about construction, much less dock building. That changed after a three six week course run by the group Non-traditional Employment for Women or NEW for short. Turning women into skilled painters, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters to name a few.
AMY PETERSON, PRESIDENT, NEW: We place about 75 percent of our graduates but it has been a little tougher over the last year or so because of the economy.
FEYERICK: Five hundred women will graduate from the program this year, a lot stronger says Emelie Sherrod than when they started.
EMELIE SHERROD, CONSTRUCTION TRAINEE: When we started, for example, with the mud bucket, say 40 pounds. And now, it is 65 pounds. So - we are getting there.
FEYERICK (on camera): By bringing the woman on, how does it change the dynamics?
PETERSON: Having women on the job site really brings a balance and women have a lot of skills. We hear constantly about women's organizational skills, women's ability to work very hard, and be eager to do any work.
COVELESKI: There is such diversity in the work itself that if you are smart and you pay attention, you can, I think there is a place for everywhere.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Supervisor, Al Gallagher, has trained lots of male apprentices. Coveleski he says is no different.
AL GALLAGHER, CONSTRUCTION SUPERVISOR: I wouldn't say she brings anything different, maybe longer hair. That's about it.
FEYERICK (on camera): Do any of the guys feel that there is like, that the women are taking jobs away from them?
GALLAGHER: No, not at all, not at all.
COVELESKI: I'm not here to steal anybody's job and I want to do the work if I can do it. I don't want to just like --I'm not trying to coast along on union wages and just be like the token minority or anything. I have spent many years trying to find a place in this world and this is the closest I have come.
FEYERICK: Now, you have to be tough. Some women complain of harassment or hazing on the job. There is also the issue of child care. If you are a single mom, who cares for your kids at 4:00 in the morning when you have to leave for work. Still many women say they are paid equally, the benefits are very good and it certainly beats sitting behind a desk. John, Kiran.
CHETRY: Deb Feyerick for us this morning, thanks.
ROBERTS: Coming up now, 27 minutes after the hour. The New Orleans Oyster Festival, the annual gastronomic indulgence of those lovely little sea creatures, takes off this weekend. But is it safe to eat what comes out of the water? We will find out. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: Coming up on the half hour now and breaking news, the hot spot getting hotter. We are expecting the navy to announce that is setting an aircraft carrier to the Yellow Sea off of the Korean peninsula, the USS George Washington is expected to be part of military exercises carried out by South Korea and the U.S. in response North Korea's alleged attack on a South Korean warship.
CHETRY: The crisis over Israel's blockade could flare again today. An Irish ship is now headed toward Gaza loaded with supplies. Ireland is asking Israel to stay out of the way, but Israel's military is defending itself, saying it has the right to stop any ship bypassing the blockade and to attack those resisting capture.
ROBERTS: BP is preparing to try to cut a leaking riser at the bottom of the Gulf. Yesterday's attempt with the diamond wire cutter failed when the blade got stuck halfway through the pipe. They will now use sheers to try to finish the job. And 37 percent of the Gulf is now off limits to fishing.
CHETRY: The city of New Orleans is getting ready for the first- ever oyster festival in the French Corridor. But with 37 percent of the golf closed to fishing, the folks on dry land who depend on the seafood industry are really worried about their future.
Our Carol Costello is live in New Orleans with that side of the story. It is a huge concern. A lot of people are wondering is what they are getting now safe, and what happens when they run out in the future?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good questions, Kiran. One oyster supply house saying today the next batch of oysters could be his last. That has local restaurateurs very worried.
COSTELLO: There ain't anything better than this, oysters, New Orleans-style. Acme Oyster House has been shucking for 100 years and hopes to keep on keeping on for 100 more. But there is a sense, especially among locals, oysters will slowly die an oily death.
COSTELLO (on camera): So people are actually coming into your restaurant and eating as many oysters as they can because they fear there won't be any.
LUCIAN GUNTER, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, ACME OYSTER HOUSE: Is not exactly the marketing boom that I was hoping for.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Gunter runs Acme. He also buys 80,000 oysters a year all from the Gulf of Mexico. It's unclear how much longer he'll be able to do that. Only five of 16 oyster beds remain completely open in Louisiana. Alabama has closed its oyster beds. Only Texas is up and running.
Some customers are worried that the oysters may be tainted with oil, but the oysters served up here are completely safe. Acme says it does its own testing to make doubly sure, and customers appreciate that even though they're paying more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just going to have to get used to the higher prices on seafood. Unfortunately, but we've got to support our fishermen. We've got to support our local restaurants.
COSTELLO: It's music to Gunter's ears, always worried about something around the corner.
GUNTER: This weekend, we have our inaugural New Orleans oyster festival. I have a tendency to plan things at the most remarkable time.
COSTELLO: Gunter, and he hopes hundreds of others, will shuck oysters at that festival. And if they don't have enough to shuck, as Gunter told me, they'll eat something else, maybe chicken.
COSTELLO: I'm sure he could make the chicken good. It would be really good if Gunter made it. Gunter could boy oysters from California if the supplies runs out here in the Gulf, but that would be much more expensive for Gunter and for his customers as well.
Frankly, the taste of a California oyster isn't the same as an oyster that comes from the Gulf because the reason Gulf coast oysters are so good, it is the mix of salt water and fresh water, salt water from the Gulf, fresh water from the Mississippi. That mixture gives the oysters that come from the Gulf that distinctive taste, Kiran.
CHETRY: Now, there is concern not only for this year and this season but future seasons down the road and whether or not the oyster populations will be able to recover there. There are lot of question marks about that.
COSTELLO: Absolutely. It is what, a $34 million business. Oysters alone. The farm bureau told us that they expect that to be cut in half. So they will lose $17 million this year alone just on the oyster industry.
CHETRY: It is certainly a tragedy no matter how you look at it. Carol Costello, thanks.
ROBERTS: The Department of Justice launches an investigation against BP and the oil spill. What's the likely hook that the company could face criminal charges? We are talking about Mississippi's attorney general Jim Hood right after the break. Stay with us. It's coming up on 35 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Its 37 minutes after the hour. An underwater look there at the bottom of the Gulf and the top of that blowout preventer. The riser still leaking oil, and the attempt to saw that pipe in half yesterday failed. Now, they are going to bring down big sheers which won't make it as clean a cut and so limit the chances that they will capture as much oil as they wanted to. Still they're trying.
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft is criticizing the Obama administration for waiting so long to launch a criminal investigation into the spill. Ashcroft insists that it should have happened a lot sooner they say.
CHETRY: There are a lot of questions about what criminal charges would mean for BP. Our next guest with Attorney General Eric Holder to talk about that.
Jim Hood is Mississippi attorney, and he joins us this morning. Thanks for being here.
JIM HOOD, MISSISSIPPI ATTORNEY GENERAL: Glad to be here.
CHETRY: I know you had a chance to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder. Are you happy with the progress being made and what do you ultimately hope will happen in terms of holding BP accountable? HOOD: As far as the criminal investigation, our meeting with Eric Holder, that information has been preserved. We all five of us coastal attorneys general wrote a letter to BP and all the other companies involved. We asked that they preserve all their documentation. That has been preserved.
So all the steps for criminal investigation, that can wait. Those things can happen later. What we are working on right now are trying to get a claims process where people are paid very quickly. I learned after the Katrina wars with the insurance industry where people are paid quickly.
So we attorneys general have been concentrating on that process so people don't sign waivers or have caps on their claims.
ROBERTS: Now BP is trying to get them all before one judge, Lynn Hughes, who is very familiar with the oil industry. How could that potentially affect your cases?
HOOD: That's the problem we attorneys general are fighting. I spoke to the House Judiciary Committee last week. We asked that they change some legislation that would allow them to suck all of the states into one court. We want our state claims litigated in our state courts from Florida across to Texas.
ROBERTS: How does it affect you if it all goes to Houston?
HOOD: If all the state claims are thrown in with all the other plaintiff's claims and the federal judges get involved, the judge's job is to beat everybody into submission and get everyone to settle. We don't want a dime more than we are entitled to but we want it in state court.
Tobacco companies had to walk into a state courtroom in Mississippi. We put this in a state courtroom, this will settle.
CHETRY: You want it in a state court?
HOOD: Absolutely. We will have our claims individually dealt with. Where is a pelican in Mississippi we were seeking reimbursement for, a federal judge in Houston, Texas is not going to be concerned about something like that.
CHETRY: However, you might not have, playing devil's advocate here, much of a fight on your hand in terms of BP. They have already paid out $1 billion for the cleanup. They agreed to pay $360 million to get the sand booms built as well as paying out $120 million in individual claims. Do you think it is best settled outside of litigation?
HOOD: Absolutely. Their general counsel has been in our office, putting the claims process on the office and all these things we have asked them to do.
It still doesn't make me forgive them for the steps they have taken to shortcut this and cause this to happen in the first place. Right now, they are working well with us. We hope they are able to get this stopped. They are not optimistic until the methods in August. If it goes on further than that, we get into bankruptcy and litigation for years. We certainly don't want to see something like that.
ROBERTS: I know you can't talk too much about the criminal investigation. Let me see if I can come in a side door here, because criminal follows what's happening with civil litigations. Where is that going? How might the criminal investigation parallel that?
HOOD: A grand jury will take a look at this. We had a grand jury, some state grand juries. The federal government would have jurisdiction of the wells where the events occurred out there on the rig. The wrongful death civil will be handled.
We have prepared our before and after pictures. We have video, grass counts, bird counts, all that type of information in preparation for the civil litigation. But it will take time to gather or evidence.
That's what's good about us meeting with the attorneys general. We are sharing information, documents. We are talking millions of documents. It will be a tremendous task to handle that, go through it with a fine tooth comb and see if there is any criminal liability. Certainly, there is civil liability.
CHETRY: You talked about the fight after in the wake of Katrina getting the claims settled. On a personal level, can the Gulf return to normal for all the fishermen, for all the oystermen, for everyone out there?
HOOD: We remain optimistic that we will. If it goes on through August, the currents are going to change. We are going to get a blast of it. I know I'm confident our people are resilient having seen what happened after Katrina.
But the signs of Katrina were beginning to disappear on the barrier islands. The trees had fallen over. This could be a continued track. And people that fish for a living, they are just going to have to move to another area because I think a lot of these are going to be closed, particularly those in south Louisiana.
At least they could feed their families if times got bad in the old days or nowadays. But if they can't catch anything, they can't feed their families and they have to go somewhere else.
ROBERTS: Jim Hood, great to talk to you this morning. Thanks so much. We will keep following this story closely.
HOOD: Thank you.
ROBERTS: On CNN tonight, Larry King has an exclusive interview with President Obama. From the recession an battling two wars to trying to manage the world oil spill in U.S. history, the president shares his thoughts with "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.
CHETRY: And also there are some dangerous thunderstorms in the forecast, some flooding. Jacqui Jeras has our extreme weather forecast for us after the break. It's 44 minutes after the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL MCCARTNEY, SINGER: The next song we would like to do is a song I have been itching to do at the White House. And I hope the President will forgive me.
Michelle, my belle, these are words that go together well, my Michelle. Michelle, my belle --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: He even had the President and the first lady singing along with him. Paul McCartney is singing the Beatles classic "Michelle" to the first lady. McCartney was honored with the Gershwin Prize last night by President Obama as well as the Library of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is my distinct pleasure to present America's highest award for popular music on behalf of a grateful nation, grateful that a young Englishman shared his dreams with us, Sir Paul McCartney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: In another really cool moment, the First Family actually joined McCartney as well as a crew of other celebrities on stage to sing, "Hey Jude". How much fun would that have been to be in that room?
ROBERTS: That would be great, I love Paul McCartney. And the concerts that he gave in Red Square. Can you imagine being him at his age doing that? Wow, what a fun and an amazing career this guy has had.
Jacqui Jeras is tracking the extreme weather across the country for us this morning at 48 minutes to the top of the hour. What are we looking at today Jacqui, we've got some storms there in the Gulf?
JERAS: Oh yes, storms in the Gulf, storms in the east, storms in the Midwest. We've got it covered almost everywhere with these thunderstorms unfortunately. This is a big problem, though, because this is going to be moving towards the oil spill area.
And as you take a look at this line of advances that looks like it's weakening. But it's not. It's just because we don't have radar coverage this far out in the Gulf. So it looks like it kind of disappears. But this cluster continues to hold together and push eastward. And this is going to turn things up with those strong winds coming out of the thunderstorm down draft and it's going to move across the Gulf Coast over the next couple of days, even into the weekend.
Now, we're also looking at that stormy weather kind of breaking up a little bit here across the plains states but this one cluster holding through across Louisville and towards Cincinnati.
Well, you're looking ok for the most part in the northeast right now. We still have a lot of that cloudiness and a lot of that haze. And we do think thunderstorms will trigger along the cold front, maybe even by early afternoon.
A ground stop in Philadelphia because of the low visibility And we are expecting delays in a whole lot of cities across the east and Midwest today, South Florida due to thunderstorms and San Francisco will have some delays because of the low clouds and fog as well.
As we look at the big picture today, moisture still trapped here across the east. And that's why we're going to start to see that trigger once again. High pressure trying to squeeze in across the upper Midwest keeping it a little better in places like Milwaukee and Chicago but we will fire up some thunderstorms in the upper Midwest for today.
Temperatures out west really going to start heating up as that high pressure system starts to build; so a triple digits in Phoenix today but that's going to move to Dallas. They could see 103 by Saturday.
So it really finally starting to heat up across the south. John and Kiran, back to you.
ROBERTS: All right, that's why they call it the south. It's a nice hot place to be. Jacqui Jeras for us this morning, Jacqui thanks.
ROBERTS: Toxic chemicals in your home, what to do to reduce your exposure now. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, with his series "Toxic Towns" is coming up next. Stay with us.
ROBERTS: It's time now for your "AM House Calls" stories about your health.
The World Health Organization predicting a dramatic increase in people being diagnosed and dying from cancer over the next two decades. It says by the year 2030 there will be 21 million new cases of cancer annually around the world and that 13 million cancer victims will die. That's almost twice as many cancer deaths as there were in 2008.
CHETRY: Pretty grim stats. And this week, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is bringing you a special CNN investigation, "Toxic America". You may not know it. But everyday items in your home could be making your family sick.
ROBERTS: This morning some advice from Sanjay, things that you can do right now to give your house a detox.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Kiran, there is no question, we think about our homes as a safe zone, sort of a protected cocoon where we feel protected. But as we research this documentary over the last year, there are some things that we've learned that just may not be right and some tips that could make you a little bit safer.
So I want to take you on a trip inside the home to tell you what you should be doing to try and reduce your exposures. The first thing you do, you walk inside. You just take off your shoes. And a lot of people don't think anything of it. But our shoes could be covered with all sorts of things, work place chemicals, garden pesticides, lawn fertilizers, herbicides, road oil.
You get the idea. You're tracking that stuff through the home and that can be especially dangerous for families who have babies and toddlers that are spending a lot of time on the floors.
Next stop for a lot of people, is for me, kitchen. Now, one of the questions that came up over and over again is the quality of water.
Now, water in the United States is pretty clean. But you can add levels of protection. You can use a carbon filter for example that will remove lead, chlorine, bacteria. If you live in an old building, now you can use -- let the water run on cold for a couple of minutes to flush the system especially if you have lead pipes.
And -- and what about what you eat. And that's obviously another question that comes up a lot in the kitchen. There are some good tips here. When it comes to meat and dairy, you should look for produce without antibiotics and without growth hormones. That's the recommendation of the President's cancer panel.
Also when you cook meat, don't blacken it. If you have blackened or charred meat, that can produce carcinogenic compounds; compounds that could cause cancer.
Now from the kitchen and a lot of people go into the living room. Some things to keep in mind over there as well, there is a lot of dust and concerns about indoor air pollution.
In fact as things stand now, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than the air outside. Think about that, it's a huge concern for parents because a lot of their kids are spending most of their time indoors these days. Furniture, carpet, drapes, they can give off this smell. Some people like the smell. They say it is sort of a new smell.
But it's called off-gassing. What you are smelling could be formaldehyde or other organic compounds. They can be linked asthma, kidney problems, central nervous system damage and sometimes cancer. So open the windows a lot. Allow for plenty of ventilation and try not to actually smell a lot of these household products.
Another thing you can do is pick up a house plant. House plants alone can remove up to 90 percent of the toxic chemicals in the air. So a quick tour there, John and Kiran, of a typical home and some things that can make you a little safer and reduce your exposures.
Back to you guys.
ROBERTS: All right. Sanjay thanks so much. Be sure to join Sanjay for part two of our CNN special investigation "Toxic America". That's tonight 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
We are back right after a quick break.
CHETRY: Well, it could have been a perfect game. Will they reverse that call?
ROBERTS: It might still be. Yes.
CHETRY: Yes. You never know. We'll keep watching that one. Meanwhile, continue the conversation on today's stories. Go to CNN.com/amfix.
That's going to do it for us. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
ROBERTS: The news continues on CNN with Brooke Baldwin in the "CNN NEWSROOM".