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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Reaction to President Obama's Speech on the Oil Spill

Aired June 15, 2010 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Thanks, Wolf, President Obama, in his first address from the Oval Office, outlined his battle plan for the Gulf disaster tonight -- a three-pronged approach. And we'll be talking about it in the next hour.

It comes on the day the government upped the estimate of leaking oil to as many as 60,000 barrels a day. That may be up to 50 percent more than previously thought.

Joining us to begin things, James Carville, CNN political contributor, Democratic strategist.

And Sammy Kershaw, the country music artist and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Louisiana.

Sammy, I'll start with you.

The president said, in one paragraph here: "Make no mistake, we will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes. And we will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. We'll do whatever is necessary to help people recover."

Was that strong enough for you?

SAMMY KERSHAW, COUNTRY MUSIC ARTIST, GOP CANDIDATE, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA: Well, you know, I also heard him say that he was going to work together with BP. But I hope that don't just mean that they're going to make BP pay. Not only that, but they need to work together to plug this hole. That's what we need. We need the hole plugged.

There's a lot of folks down there that are hurting really bad, a lot of fishermen, shrimpers, crabbers. And, you know, we have a -- coastline.org -- actually, it's protectourcoastline.org. There's no government red tape or BP paperwork. It's something that we've put together to help the fishermen and all the folks down there on -- on the Gulf.

And, you know, I hear a lot of people keep talking about trickle- down effect and certain things and all that.

But if you think about it, here we are in the Gulf of Mexico South. And let's talk about a trickle up effect. You shut this oil drilling down in the Gulf. This is going to eventually start trickling up throughout America. It's going to hurt Louisiana, for sure.

It's going to kill us.

But we -- we have to plug that hole and get our people back to working again.

And I do have to mention something right quick. I know a lot of the press makes it seem as though all of our seafood is ruined. But I do have to say that 70 percent of our seafood, we're still producing it now. So the people around the country need to know that we're still...

KING: All right...

KERSHAW: -- we're still able to produce 70 percent of good, good, clean, safe, seafood. And the 30 percent that we're not producing...

KING: All right...

KERSHAW: -- you know, some of those areas that are closed off are precautionary.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

KERSHAW: So I just want to make sure that people know that -- that all of our seafood is not ruined.

KING: James Carville, did he -- did he -- did he not say anything you wanted him to say?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, I -- I thought that he alluded to the coastal restoration in a point in (INAUDIBLE). That -- that's the clear thing, is not just to -- to clean up, but we've got to restore that coastline there. And he -- he said that he was committed to making the Gulf better. So I take it from there.

I hope that he's right on this 90 percent -- being able to capture 90 percent of this. I hope he's right that the relief well is going to be there by -- by the summer. I think that some people think it's going to take longer than that.

But hey, look, we can hope for a lot -- for a lot of things here.

But, you know, the big news is how much money is BP going to put into this fund?

What are they going to do to expedite this and, you know, the -- the speech is one thing, action is another. And we'll wait and see where we go from here.

BLITZER: What -- what, James, can he force them to do?

CARVILLE: I'm -- I'm not sure from my -- my understanding, what the lawyers claim is there's no provision that he can force them to put the money up. But, you know, the federal government has a lot -- a lot of things at its disposal. And this money is not getting to people down there in a way that's satisfactory. And if there's some kind of way that the president can expedite this and get BP do it and legally work it out, then -- then that -- he said that he was going to do that. He's meeting with them tomorrow. And I think we're waiting on a figure. And let's see what the figure is.

I think some people were hoping for a figure tonight. But it -- it's fair enough to allow him a chance to meet with them tomorrow and use presidential persuasion here. That's what -- that's what's called for and I suspect that's what he's going to do.

KING: Sammy, why are you shaking your head?

KERSHAW: Well, I think, to start with, BP should have took that $50 million, is what I think, on their publicity ads and given it straight directly to the fishermen and all those folks down on the coast. I know I don't like watching the head of BP on TV trying to fix his company. I would rather have all the fishermen and crabbers and shrimpers talking to the press, saying, yes, BP is worried about us. They -- they sent us some money directly to us to take care of us. That's what I would have liked to have seen. But, of course, I'm not running BP. And right now, I'm glad I'm not.

But that's -- I think that's what I would have done. I -- I wouldn't have spent all that money to...

KING: James...

KERSHAW: -- to say hey, we're great, BP is great, we're going to fix all this.

KING: James, what...

KERSHAW: I would have sent it to the fishermen.

KING: James, what do you make of Congressional Republicans saying that this is -- this Gulf disaster -- that the Democrats are exploiting it for a liberal agenda?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I mean I -- just, honestly, the president has been for this all of his life. And the idea that he's just using this as something, I don't think, holds up. And I haven't hesitated to criticize the president. I think that they're trying to use this for a sort of a political agenda back and forth.

But that's not the key thing -- that's not the key thing that people down in Louisiana are looking for. The key thing they're looking for is to get some immediate relief. And they're looking for a long-term commitment. They're looking to get the coastline rebuilt. And -- and that's what they're focusing in on. And we've got this moratorium. We've got to get this thing lifted at some point. You can -- Senator Landrieu will be on here and I'll let her speak of this. But -- but fishing and sea -- and -- and petroleum are the basis of our economy. And there's a way to do this safely. There's any number of really good ideas that we can get the -- these drilling rigs back to high balling here pretty soon. Because if we don't, it's going to be the end of -- the end of South Louisiana as we know it.

And I -- I wish that he would have had some kind of expedited process to end this moratorium and -- and get these rigs back up and running.

KING: Sammy, is this political or is this a tragedy that both parties have to focus on?

Or do you see politics here?

KERSHAW: I think it needs to be -- I see politics, but I see it on both sides. I hate to say that, but I see it on both sides. This is an American problem now.

Let's forget about Democrat and Republican for a while.

Let's get this hole plugged and take care of those people down in Southwest and South Louisiana, on the Gulf. Those people are hurting. They're dying down there.

I'm telling you, those people are starving. They -- they don't know what they're going to do. Their stress level is probably so high, it's just gone through the roof.

But I -- I just think it needs to -- to quit being a Democrat and Republican thing and become an American thing. This is a disaster.

When there's disasters that happen around the world, America is always first to go and -- and help those folks out. And I think Americans are good, strong people. And they -- and they care about -- we care about our own. And I think I see America going to -- fixing -- fixing to come together...

KING: Do you...

KERSHAW: -- and help all those folks, those fishermen and help the Gulf Coast...

KING: James...

KERSHAW: -- because in the long run, I think it will help all of America.

KING: James, do you -- do you think -- do you agree with John King that this could be his Katrina?

CARVILLE: I, you know, I think they're two separate events. And I -- I really try to avoid any kind of comparison here.

I -- I -- I think it's a catastrophe. I think it's the biggest environmental catastrophe in the history of the country. I think we're in this for the long haul. I think a lot of people down in my part of the world are very, very, very, deeply concerned; to some extent, scared, and appropriately so.

And I think the president -- hopefully, he made a start tonight and -- and we get this thing going. But we have to figure a way to get these -- these rigs back up and running in a safe, dependable way. We've got to figure a way to get people reimbursed, rebuild this coastline and get this cleaned up. And if the president can do that, more power to him. I certainly hope that he can. But I'll tell you, this is -- this has been a very, very tough go...

KING: Yes.

CARVILLE: -- and it's going to be tough for a while.

KING: T. Boone Pickens later.

Senator Mary Landrieu is coming.

And the president is going to face-off tomorrow with executives from BP.

Back with Carville and Kershaw. And we'll ask them where he -- they think he should say to them.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

The president implored Americans tonight to change our ways now.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs, but only if we accelerate that transition, only if we seize the moment and only if we rally together and act as one nation -- workers and entrepreneurs, scientists and citizens, the public and private sectors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's down the road.

What about tomorrow?

Sammy Kershaw, what should he say to the head of BP?

KERSHAW: Well, you're going to have to hold BP's feet to the fire. And, you know, I think that a lot of these other oil companies, too, you know, Shell and ConocoPhillips and all those guys are going to help hold BP's feet to the fire.

But, you know, we can't stop drilling. I've got to keep going to that -- back to that and our fishermen. You know, we're going to have a lot of people out of work. But he -- he needs to stay on him. It's their problem. It's BP's problem. They need to plug the hole. They need to plug it right away. They need to make our coastline back to what it was, let our fishermen go back to work and -- so we can produce 100 percent of the greatest seafood produced in the world, right here in the Gulf of Mexico.

KING: James, what does he say?

What would you have him say?

You used to be a presidential adviser.

What would you tell him?

CARVILLE: I would say you are the largest tortfeasa -- tortfeasor -- in the history of the United States. It is possible, we're looking into it. It may be even criminal negligence.

Now, let me tell you the way this is going to work, because we're a country that holds third graders accountable, we're certainly going to hold you accountable for everything that you've done. And we're going to start out and -- and I'm going to suggest a figure here and I want you to react to it, to put it in escrow. And let's just start at $20 billion. And then I'd see how they reacted.

And I would be very tough. And I would explain to them that -- that it's very important that everybody know that you clean up your mess. You know, you walk in -- you walk into my children's room and say, clean up your mess. Tell BP just because they're a gazillion, billion dollar company, they've got to clean their mess up, too. And if I was the president, I would make that very clear and very plain in a very determined way.

KING: Yes. And...

CARVILLE: Very, very determined.

KING: And after the meeting, James, how transparent would you be in telling the public what occurred?

CARVILLE: Well, I think he's going to have to, you know, he'll -- you know, he'll say what he did. But then, hopefully, they'll come out with a figure and an agreement. I mean I -- I'm more concerned with what the figure is -- and I think anybody would be -- and the way that the people are going to get reimbursed than the sort of mutual discussion on -- on a variety of topics and a candid, but frank, you know, some kind of diplomatic garbage, as opposed to coming out with a figure and a reality. The way -- you know, these people are hurting down there. They're people who have earned their living doing this for -- for, you know, 40 years and -- or more, in some instances.

And so that's what people are going to be looking for -- and that BP and the federal government are going to be with them in the long haul. I -- that's what I'm -- that's what people are really concerned about and what they really want to hear.

KING: Sammy, do you think presidential pressure without, say, legal power can work? KERSHAW: Well, I'm not real sure. I just -- I know he's going to have to be tough, for sure. But, you know, he's also going to have to kind of change gears somewhere in there and let them know that he's -- he's going to work right alongside them to get this hole plugged.

You know, I mean it's OK to go out there and tell these guys what they're going to do, how they're going to do it and when they're going to do it. But you've also got to let them know, look, I'm on your side. If you -- if you want to think about it, I'm really on your side and I'm here to help you. But -- but you're going to have to make some things right for those folks down in the Gulf. And -- and then I'll stand with you and we'll do this thing together and get it worked out and get it fixed.

KING: Do you agree, James?

CARVILLE: Well, look, everybody wants to plug the hole in the Gulf. I mean that's -- of course, BP wants to do that. The government wants to do that. Shell, Chevron -- like if anybody had an idea how to do it, I -- I guarantee you it would be out there. This -- this is not -- this is not good for the industry. And they didn't have a good day on the Hill today. This is if -- you know, the suits in Houston are not having fun tonight. And -- and this is not a good thing.

And if they could, they would. I guarantee you that the president wants to shut the hole. I don't doubt that. I don't doubt that BP wants to shut the hole.

But the point is, is that you've got to use the entire force of the federal government to force BP to do things. That means the Justice Department and everything else. The entire force of the federal government has got to be involved in this recovery. The entire force of the federal government has got to be involved in restoring Louisiana's coastline and making these people right. That's the important thing.

You know, when -- when the federal -- the president and the government have a lot of power. And when they use it in the right direction, it's got to be power that people can feel.

KING: Right.

CARVILLE: Now, I -- I want that hole closed as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure that all the power on the Earth knows how to close that thing. And if they did, they would have a long time ago...

KING: All right, let me get a...

CARVILLE: -- I promise you.

KING: Let me get a break.

Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: James Carville and Sammy Kershaw remain standing by. We'll get their thoughts on what is heard from our next guest -- Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

First, what did you think of the speech?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Well, I'm very happy the president chose to address the nation from the Oval Office. I think that this incident is very significant and it deserves that kind of venue to deliver a message that's important. This, Larry, is not just about Louisiana or the Gulf Coast, although we're on the front line. It's about our nation. It's about our environment. It's about our economy.

So I think the venue that he chose was terrific. And I think his analogy to a war, to a battle, is also right on. We have not been winning these battles the last 57 days and we need to win this war. And a call for Gulf Coast restoration, as James has been saying, is a step in the right direction.

KING: What are your thoughts about the moratorium?

LANDRIEU: Well, we can't last six months. And I've tried to explain that to the president and to his advisers. I have the greatest respect for Secretary Salazar. But we have 33 rigs that can float anywhere in the world. They can be basically be moved anywhere in the world. And if we don't figure out how to keep them operating safely way before six months, they will simply leave the Gulf and go to Africa, China or elsewhere.

They can't afford $500,000 a day to be in neutral, on idle. It's not going to happen, Larry. And it's not just the rig workers that the president acknowledged. And I want to say I thought he hit some very fine points.

But for every man or woman on the rig, as James knows, there are 150 to 200, there are four or five guys back on shore driving the trucks, delivering the ice, making the food, you know. And then there are thousands of industries that support it.

So we have an environmental disaster that's causing economic damage. But we're going to have an economic disaster if we don't figure out how to -- how to inspect these 33 rigs and get them drilling as soon as possible.

KING: Do you...

LANDRIEU: And the country needs the oil.

KING: Do you back up the estimates now, putting it at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day?

LANDRIEU: It could be. But, you know, it was clear to some of us, you know, eight weeks ago now, this well was one of the largest wells ever discovered in the Gulf. When I met with several of the wives at my kitchen table, literally, last week, they said to me, they said, Senator, our husbands would come home from this well and say this is a well from hell.

It was big. It was bad. We'll learn all about how BP didn't handle it very well. But we knew initially that it could flow at 60,000 barrels a day. That was why they were excited about the discovery. It was a very big discovery -- not the deepest well, but one of the biggest.

So I'm -- I'm like James. I mean I'm encouraged by some things I hear the president say. But we've got to put the full force of our government. I think the president made a positive step tonight, but we have a lot more to do.

KING: Sammy, do you want to comment on what the senator said?

KERSHAW: Oh, I -- I'm with her. We can't stop this drilling. I mean it's just -- it would just -- it wouldn't just cripple us, it would kill us. And -- and these guys will not hang around, like she said. I agree with her on it. We have to keep drilling. It's the lifeblood of Louisiana, you know, it has been for a long, long time. And...

KING: James?

KERSHAW: -- we just, we can't -- we can't survive six months.

KING: James, what do you think?

CARVILLE: Well, I -- obviously, I -- I agree with what Senator -- Senator Landrieu said. But the thing right now is, is that it's very important people remember this. Both the situation in Katrina, in particular in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish, and the situation in the Gulf were not anything natural about them. They were engineering failures -- and massive engineering failures.

There's nothing -- a drilling rig operated properly, with proper procedures, can be a very safe thing. It had been done a lot.

But when you had a situation like you had here and you didn't have proper regulation and there wasn't a wall of separation -- separation between the regulator and the regulated, this kind of thing happens. And I think we've got to -- we've got to tighten down on that, but we can tighten down and get it running up again.

KING: Senator, can you comment on the president's selection of Michael Bromwich, who served as the Justice Department inspector general, to be the...

LANDRIEU: Well, we...

KING: He's going to revamp the Minerals Management, he's going to regulate offshore drilling.

What do you think of that appointment?

LANDRIEU: Well, we most certainly need somebody to clean up Minerals Management. I mean Ken Salazar started the job. I think he found a bigger mess than he had bargained for. We realized that, you know, the industry can't regulate itself. I mean government does have a job to play in regulating not just this industry, but other industries, so consumers, the environment are protected.

But, Larry, just getting back to this moratorium for a minute. I mean we -- no one wants these rigs to be safer than the people living closest to them, I mean, obviously, people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. But we've got to do this for these deepwater rigs faster and then let the shallow rigs operate as quickly and safely as we can.

It's not just Louisiana jobs. The entire nation depends on this energy production, even as we move to a cleaner, greener, you know, energy future.

So we've got to revamp Minerals Management. But I tell you, there's just a lot more that needs to be done. The president's call for Gulf Coast restoration was music to our ears. I mean, James has been ape great voice. But there have been many organizations -- America's Wetlands. Restore & Retreat, the Lake Pontchartrain Area Foundation.

And we've got plans, Larry. I've been on your show before talking about this.

KING: I know.

LANDRIEU: We have to win this battle for Gulf Coast restoration.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

LANDRIEU: And the revenue sharing or direct revenues would be helpful.

KING: Thank you all very much.

LANDRIEU: Thank you.

KING: Senator Mary Landrieu, James Carville, Sammy Kershaw.

We'll have them all back again. You can count on it.

You can also count on legendary oil man, T. Boone Pickens, joining us next. He's going to tell us what he thought of the Obama address, what he'd do if he were in charge. He's been right about this all along.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: He is becoming a regular on LARRY KING LIVE these days. We're always happy to see T. Boone Pickens, the legendary oil man, chairman of the BP Management Company, which, by the way, has no association with the BP Oil Company.

What did you think of the speech, Boone?

T. BOONE PICKENS: Well, I commend him. I think the president made it very clear, we have no energy plan. And but we haven't had an energy plan for 40 years. So let's get an energy plan.

You know, I'm for the wind and the solar. But that's -- that's not going to solve much for you. That's for power generation. And your problem is transportation fuel, is where you're coming from.

And, what, 70 percent of all the oil we import every day is for transportation fuel.

And if you remember, the president said, when he got the nomination, that in 10 years, we would not import any oil from -- he said from the Mideast. And I -- I believe he -- that's, you know, he told us he would do that. I've seen no plan to accomplish that. And...

KING: But he's tried, hasn't he?

PICKENS: Has he tried?

KING: Yes, hasn't he tried?

PICKENS: Well, I don't know, where has he tried?

KING: He's got a House bill.

PICKENS: OK. Yes. We got HR1835 --

KING: Right.

PICKENS: And Senate Bill 1408, but something is very interesting, yesterday, that, the National Association of Mayors came out and endorsed both of those bills 1835 and 1408. And those bills -- what they do is they take natural gas which is a huge resource in this country. The largest resource the country has. It's -- our natural gas reserves are three times the equivalent of the Saudis' oil reserves. And here, we're not, you know, we're not using them.

There are 12 million vehicles in the world today on natural gas. And 130,000 of them are in the United States. And we have more gas than any other country in the world. We are honestly -- I've known, I've said this before, but Larry, we're going to go down as the dumbest crowd that ever showed up. To have a resource like natural gas and we don't even use it.

KING: All right. Boone, you've been right all along on this. When are they going to solve this spill?

PICKENS: OK. You remember our first time we talked about it; we were 38 days at that point.

KING: Right and you said it would double it? PICKENS: It's more. It's more. We're going to be, I would say, don't look for the relief well to be in position and to accomplish the deal. Now, everybody is thinking it's going to be August. I think it will be the middle of September.

KING: And how -- therefore, how worse, how worse is it going to get?

PICKENS: Well, you're going to keep looking at that --

KING: Three months.

PICKENS: Yes, you're talking about right at the middle of June, so, June, July, August, September. Yes, we're still three months away. So, we're going to -- but you don't have to worry about your news each evening because it's going to be the same thing over and over again. I mean -- and I think BP is going to start to capture more oil through their, their deal that they have going right now. They're at about 15,000 or 20,000 barrels a day. And hopefully, they will get more than that. How much oil are we -- are we -- producing out of that well, right now, it's probably 40,000 or 50,000 barrels.

KING: Boone, if you were the president, how tough would you be when you meet with the head of BP?

PICKENS: Why be tough? I mean, everybody said everything they want to say. Tell them that, look, let's work together and get this darn thing plugged is what we need to do. But, I mean, why are we going to chew them out? Let's wait until we get it plugged and then figure out if there really is, was it a -- was it a total accident? Was it like an airplane with two good pilots and 300 passengers that crashed? Could it be pilot error? Sure it could. But I'm not interested in an investigation while these people are trying to solve the problem. So, lay off of them and work together and then investigate.

KING: In the congressional testimony, Boone, I want to get this right, the chairman of Exxon Mobil, Exxon, said that if oil companies followed proper well design, drilling maintenance procedures, accidents like this one should not occur. Do you agree?

PICKENS: I agree. I think Rex Tillerson said the right thing there. If you follow everything, it's just like flying the airplane. If you follow the rules, then watch the instruments, then you are a qualified pilot you will get from "A" to "B" and there are things that will happen in between. Sometimes, there are accidents. Sometimes, people made bad calls, and I'm not --

KING: So, you wouldn't do anything -- if you were chairman of BP would you fire the people who are running it?

PICKENS: I don't -- well, I'd find out, you know, if we -- if somebody made some bad calls, made some judgment errors and all. But I wouldn't rush to do that if I was the chairman of BP. I would get the well plugged. And along the way, I would, I would figure out if they know about what happened. And we know that they got a bad cement job, there's no question about that. And we know that the blowout preventers didn't work. And beyond that, I don't know what anybody said or what anybody did.

KING: We'll take a break. Hang on, Boone. We'll take a break and we'll ask Boone if he thinks BP can survive this crisis. Their credit rating took another hit today. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the legendary T. Boone Pickens. President Obama says there's a big lesson for us all in this disaster. We better pay attention. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the lessons we learned from the spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world's oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. And that's part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean because we're running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: T. Boone, you agree?

PICKENS: A lot of it is pretty accurate, but we got the natural gas. We're number one in the world. And here, he said it on, on oil, we have 2 percent of the oil reserves. Why do we continue to depend so much on oil? Why don't we --

KING: You said because we're stupid.

PICKENS: That's right. I agree that we got to get on our own resources, but here, we have resources. We can go to the battery on light duty. We can go to the hybrid. We got butane, propane, ethanol, all of these things are American. Get off of the Mideast oil. Just exactly what the president said when he got the nomination. He said in ten years, we will not be on Mideast oil. And I'm in total agreement on that.

But you got to have a plan or nothing will ever happen. It's like a tree. It's like a tree, Larry. When was the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. Just in case you didn't plant it. Today is the second best time. You got to get an energy plan for America.

KING: Well put. Can, can BP survive this poor credit downturn?

PICKENS: Well, the credit downturn, you know, it started, just before this happened was AA-plus, then went to AA, and now, it's BBB. Well, they're two above junk now. But, sure they can survive it unless, unless the government continues, continues to go after them like they're going after them. I still say, lay off of them and get the well plugged. Get the beaches cleaned up. But we're not that -- we haven't lost that much oil to the beaches.

So, you know, someplace in here, yes, I think they're going to survive. But if you look at the American assets they have, it's 700,000 barrels of oil a day and 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day. That's probably worth $150 billion. They've only spent $1.6 billion at this point on the problem. So, yes, they got, they got a strong balance sheet with very little debt.

KING: Would you invest in BP, would you buy BP stock?

PICKENS: No. I wouldn't. I wouldn't.

KING: All right. Simply put then. Is there even a worse case situation, do you see? A worse case scenario than your forecasting mid-September?

PICKENS: Well, then it could be mid-December. Could that happen? Yes, it could happen. If you look back at the ex-stock well (ph), it went 290 days and three relief wells. We have two relief wells going now. They're getting down right on time.

KING: What happens if, what happens if a hurricane hits?

PICKENS: Oh, man, I don't want that. That would, that would be, that would be bad. You know, they had to shut down the tender today because it was struck by lightning. And, they were shut down for several hours before they could get back to -- back to -- to getting the oil into the tender.

KING: I asked the president this. I didn't get a clear answer. Could it rain oil on people, hurricane, tropical storm?

PICKENS: No, I don't think that. You know, what you're talking about is a hurricane comes in there and picks up a lot of warm water in the Gulf and then rains oil.

KING: Yes, picks up the oil?

PICKENS: No, there's not -- I don't -- the percentage of oil to water would be insignificant. And so, no, I don't think it could rain oil.

KING: These are sad days, T. Boone, do you see any light?

PICKENS: I do. I mean, light -- we do have more natural gas than any country in the world. That's good. And some of our technology is advancing at a rapid rate for alternative energy. And sure, we're going to get out of the problem. I mean, this isn't doomsday. It's a mess is what it is. But one good thing for us, the migratory birds have moved out of the Gulf Coast and they started moving out in April. And they are thousands of ducks and geese down there, and so, they're gone. They've gone to the breeding grounds.

KING: They're smart. Thanks again, T. Boone. We'll probably see you tomorrow.

PICKENS: OK, Larry, thank you.

KING: T. Boone Pickens. Representative Ed Markey is here (INAUDIBLE) with the father of a young man who was killed in that rig explosion that started all of this. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we meet our next guest, let's check in with Anderson Cooper and an update on " AC 360" -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, we're live in Louisiana. Again, startling hearings on Capitol Hill today revealing just what a dog and pony show oil companies, not just BP, but other drillers as well have put on for regulators, issuing and getting approval for spill response plans that were flawed at best, riddled with outdated references and factual inaccuracies. How did they get away with it? Keeping it among us (ph).

Also, look at these photos taken recently by members of the Plaquemines Parish Inland Water Waste Strike force, a brown pelican nesting site on Queen Best Island. You see a chick lying dead and a nest nearby eggs that have been crushed. Local officials saying clean-up crews sent by BP are responsible for the destruction. We'll talk about that with Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish. Those stories and yet another upward revisions to the radar which oil is flooding into the Gulf. Should anyone believe these numbers? We'll look into it, Larry, at top of the hour.

KING: Unbelievable. That's Anderson Cooper 10:00 eastern 07:00 Pacific. Old friend, congressman Ed Markey, he's chairman of the Energy and Environmental Subcommittee, chief executives from five major oil companies including BP testified before his subcommittee earlier today. And from Baton Rouge, Louisiana is Keith Jones, his son Gordon only 28 years old, was one of the 11 people killed in the deepwater horizon oil rig explosion back on April 20th. What did you think of the president's speech, Ed?

REP. ED MARKEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I thought he did an excellent job. He laid out a battle plan to -- to ensure that the well was plugged. That there is a response that is put in place so that the oil is sopped up so that the people who have been harmed are compensated, and he then laid out a battle plan for a renewable energy agenda for the future, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, plug-in, hybrids, all electric vehicles. So, I think he laid out the two things the American people want to hear that their president is working on. And I thought he did so in a brilliant way.

KING: All right. Keith, I don't know that you can think clearly on anything these days, losing a child, but what did you think of the speech?

KEITH JONES, SON KILLED IN OIL RIG EXPLOSION: I was pleased with the speech, Larry. I, I agree with a good deal of what the president says. I agree for the time being with the moratorium on deepwater drilling. I see a little bit quicker solution than most do, I think and that the president has said what he needs to have is to be convinced that deepwater drilling can be done safely. And if it can be done safely, the way for him to learn that is for BP to stand up and act like men and admit what they did wrong. They made bad decision after bad decision after bad decision, always erring on the side of making more money and against the side of safety.

And the result was what you saw on April 20th. If they would step up and be like men, admit what they did wrong, take their medicine, I think the president might be convinced that it could be done safely. It just can't be done like they did it.

KING: You lost a son. Have you contacted BP personally?

JONES: I've had no contact, whatsoever with BP. They haven't -- I have no reason to contact them. They certainly haven't contacted me when I testified before the House Judiciary Committee, a gentleman from BP was five chairs down, four chairs down maybe, never looked my way. A lady from Transocean was, at least, nice enough to come and speak to me and very sincerely express her condolences.

But the BP, I expect, is fairly unhappy with what we're trying to do in Congress, and that is to change the death on the high seas act and make them answerable with punitive damages.

KING: Let me great a break and come back. It's time for tonight's CNN Hero, a former crack addict, six-time prison inmate, got out, clean, transformed a life, created a program to help female offenders do the same. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN BURTON, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: We all leave prison saying, I'm going to get my life on track. And you end up getting off a bus downtown Los Angeles, skid row. Many times, you don't even make it out of the skid row area before you're caught up into that cycle again. My name is Susan Burton. After my son died, I used drugs. I went to prison six times. Finally, I found rehab and I thought I can help women come home from prison. I picked them up, bring them back to the house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered you a warm bed, food. Like a real family. She made me want to change my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You proud of me, Miss Burton?

BURTON: Sure. You came a long way.

This is life. That's what it's all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Since 1998, Susan Burton has helped more than 400 women get their lives on track. To nominate someone you think is changing the world, go to CNN.com/heroes. Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Congressman Markey, how tough should the president be with BP? Some say, as Keith Jones thinks obviously very tough, but some like T. Boone Pickens says that that wouldn't pay. What do you think?

MARKEY: I think that it's impossible to be too tough on BP. My heart goes out to Mr. Jones and his family for his loss because we now know that BP was running through all kinds of red lights, warnings that had been going off in the hours and days before this accident occurred. And so, I think it's important for the president to force BP to put together a compensation fund. It's important for BP to be told that they won't be making the decisions. It will not be the chief counsel of BP who decides who gets compensated.

That an independent evaluator of all the claims will make those decisions and that we will also repeal the death on the high seas act so that families like Mr. Jones can be properly compensated. It's impossible to fully compensate, but to just ensure that BP has to pay for what they did to these families.

KING: Keith, on a personal note, I guess, it's impossible to answer this, but how do you keep going after you lose a child? What keeps you functioning?

JONES: Larry, what's kept me functioning so far, I think, is that my son and I, who were the only lawyers who were immediate family members of any of the 11 took it upon ourselves to go to Washington and try to get this unfair law fixed and to see to it that these families could be more nearly compensated. The congressman is right. They cannot be fully compensated.

You can't make it up with money. But they can be more nearly compensated if they -- if Congress will dramatically change the death on the high seas act and make certain that if the proof is there as to BP's wanton and reckless misconduct that we can recover punitive damages and make BP regret that they made such bad decisions. Perhaps, they won't do it again. That's what's keeping me going right now.

KING: How is your son's wife and child?

JONES: They're great. His youngest child, of course, was born a couple of weeks after Gordon died and that was the ultimate bittersweet experience when Maxwell Gordon came into the world without his dad, but he is a perfectly healthy, happy, big boy and just like his older brother, sleeps through the night, from night one. I don't know how it is. Michelle has such good babies all the time. But they are that. And so, they've got a lot of family support, a lot of it. And we're making sure that that that's going to stay that way.

KING: Thanks, Keith. Ed, we only got about 45 seconds. T. Boone Pickens says it's going to take till September maybe longer. What do you think?

MARKEY: It's not an easy thing to be able to drill and to find such a small target. I think we have to hope. We have to pray that they get it right the first time. Because if they don't and a hurricane hits the Gulf, we could have a Katrina-hit Exxon Valdez and the consequences will be catastrophic. So, let's just pray that they are successful but also understand the logistical difficulties that they face.

KING: Is Congress doing all they can?

MARKEY: We are on BP every day. We are going to make sure that BP stands for bills paid. And we are not going to relent. We're going to have Tony Hayward in, the CEO, in another two days. And this will happen every day until, one, the leak is plugged, and two, all of the victims are compensated and we've cleaned up the Gulf.

KING: Thanks, Congressman Ed Markey and Keith Jones. Jennifer Lopez is here tomorrow night. Here right now is Anderson cooper and "AC 360" -- Anderson.