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Sorry Politics; Suing Arizona; Stimulus Spending

Aired June 18, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks, Wolf. Three crackling and developing political stories tonight -- one, the politics of apology. New GOP calls tonight for the Republican congressman who apologize to the CEO of BP to step down from a powerful committee post. And a new Democratic ad that exploits this Republican divide, but as we will show you it stretches the truth.

Two suing Arizona, the secretary of state lets it slip that President Obama has moved to the next level and is now preparing to sue Arizona because of its tough new immigration law. The response from the state's Republican governor, she's outraged but says bring it on.

And new documents that could turn the Elena Kagan confirmation battle from a yawn to a shootout. The right says she scribbled notes comparing the NRA to the KKK. The White House says it's a desperate reading of a memo that says nothing of the sort.

There's news on the economy too -- remember these numbers, 58 and four -- back to those in a moment but the breaking political news first to help digest and debate the big developments here in Washington Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, in New York Republican strategist Ed Rollins and in Atlanta the editor of the conservative Erick Erickson.

Let's start with this controversy about Joe Barton. Yesterday he apologizes twice to the chairman of BP. Then he has to take it back because the Republican leadership tells him take it back or you will lose your position. Today a second Republican congressman both from the Gulf Coast said he should step down.

Jo Bonner from Alabama who was down along with the -- Gulf Coast with us when we were there last week said quote, "I believe the damage of his comments are beyond repair and as such I am today calling on Joe to do the right thing for our conference and immediately step aside as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee." Ed Rollins, a little internal Republican tension, should Joe Barton fight it or should he step aside?

ED ROLLINS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He's going to fight it. Joe's a tough guy. He's not in danger of losing his seat. He's represented oil companies for a long, long time. I think he gets more money than anybody else. So I mean you can't make a case back in Texas that he represents oil when he comes from a district that's got a lot of oil. So my sense is it will go away in a few days. I think if he had it to say over again he wouldn't say it. (INAUDIBLE) a lot of us think the president did the right thing and obviously people who represent Republican districts in Alabama and other places think he made a mistake.

KING: Erick, you agree. I don't think you would have apologized to Tony Hayward, but you agree with the rest of his statement, don't you?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well yes, I mean I think it was a shakedown. No doubt British Petroleum cooperated in it just like yesterday was a show trial in Congress. This is what politicians do. Barack Obama had to save face. He had to get BP in there. But, you know, while everyone is talking about him saying apologize to BP, everyone's forgetting that Barack Obama is the largest single recipient of BP campaign dollars. You know a week from now we're not going to be talking about Joe Barton. We're going to be talking about the fact that the oil is still leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

KING: But we are talking about Joe Barton a bit today. The White House says is a gift because on a day when Tony Hayward was supposed to be the pinata --

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Listen (INAUDIBLE) shakedown is problematic. And if any of the shakedowns -- a lot of the shakedown for the American people in history so he should get kudos for that. The problem with the Barton incident is that it shows a pattern. It's a narrative here. It's not an isolated incident.

If you look at sort of where they've been on Wall Street and now where they are with the big industry, it's an easy narrative for us to draw. They're always this big and powerful. They're always (INAUDIBLE) special interest and you can connect the dots. Do you want this guy to be the chairman of that committee looking out for the American people come next November? Americans should think about that when they go to the polls.

KING: Well you make that point. You make that point. So let's make the pivot. I want to show our viewers a new Democratic ad. The Democrats see an opening here. They say the Republicans are standing up for big oil, not only standing up for big oil, but doing it right in the middle of this catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, so the Democrats within 24 hours of Joe Barton statement launched this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now at President Obama's direction BP set aside 20 billion for recovery on the Gulf Coast. But if Republicans were in charge, this is the guy who'd be overseeing BP.


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


KING: And the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the committee that raises money, recruits and supports Democratic candidates running for the House, he's Chris Van Hollen, Democratic of Maryland, he told our Dana Bash this --


REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: He's not just any member of Congress. Joe Barton is the Republicans' point person on energy policy. If they took back control of the House, he's the guy in charge of the committee, and what he said was very revealing.


KING: It's a pretty swift and a pretty sharp political attack. There's only one problem. It's wrong. The Republicans have term limits on their committee people, and Joe Barton's run out in four months. And he would need to get a waiver to stay as the top Republican on that committee. They don't like to give those waivers anyway. Well he guaranteed yesterday he's not going to get that waiver. So Cornell, should the Democratic Party pull that ad and stop that rhetoric? You can say he's a friend of big oil. You can say he's -- you can make your political calculation (ph) about what he said, but it's not true that he would leave that committee.

BELCHER: Well certainly -- I know it's true now that he wouldn't get that waiver because the Republicans don't want him to have it because what he says sort of, again draws that narrative (INAUDIBLE). Look, I'm a political hack. To have such a clear narrative to draw against Republicans in November is a gift. If I was Republicans I'd be asking him to step down too because it keeps giving us ammunition and we're going to keep firing that ammunition --


KING: I'm not here to defend Joe Barton, but the ad is factually incorrect.

ERICKSON: Yes, I don't think it's going to work on this. I mean yes Joe Barton said a dumb think. The Republicans probably were as quick to lash at him as the Democrats and yet the oil still spills. The Coast Guard is blocking barges from sucking up oil because they didn't have life jackets or they needed to inspect. The Democrats can distract and play politics all they want with what Joe Barton said but they can't play politics with what's actually happening and I think the American people are going to care much more about what's happening than what someone said.

KING: And yet Ed Rollins --


KING: Yet at a time when Tony Hayward's in the chair, the president's numbers on leadership are going down, the handling of this spill going down, Joe Barton did do the Democrats a big favor yesterday.

ROLLINS: Sure, he did. He distracted the day, he took us off message. I'm very pleased that the Democrats are conceding that we're going to win the majority and we're worrying about the chairman of the Energy Committee as opposed to Mr. Waxman. But I think at the end of the day this is a couple-day story at most.

It's not going to help those 50 or 60 Democrats that are running for their lives. This is about a bigger picture and the bigger picture is the fiscally responsibility of the Democrats and the direction of the country. If we're still discussing oil come October and November, it's not going to be Congress. It's going to be the president who's going to be dragging everybody down and I think that's the bigger issue.

KING: Everybody stand by. Go ahead, quickly.

BELCHER: It's not about oil. It's about a narrative. It's about who is going to stand for the American people come November. Democrats, Republicans -- Republicans show they stand with Wall Street and they show with big oil. I like that narrative.

KING: All right, Cornell. Erick and Ed stand by. We'll be back in just a minute. We'll move on to another dicey and highly emotional issue, the politics of immigration and suing Arizona.


KING: The politics of immigration now -- we're back with Democrat Cornell Belcher, Republican Ed Rollins, conservative Erick Erickson. You know sometimes you learn things in the funniest of places. We think all knowledge and all information resides here in Washington, but on a trip in an interview with a television network in Ecuador -- Ecuador, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a clear indication that she knows something the administration is not ready to yet say publicly. We knew the president had asked the Justice Department to review the new Arizona immigration law, to see if there were grounds to file a federal lawsuit. Well listen to the secretary of state. She suggests we move to the next level.


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


KING: Will be, she says. And so you think maybe she misspoke, maybe she didn't have it right. But our Justice Department producer Jerry Frieden (ph) has been working his sources all day; he has two very good ones who say they have moved to the next step. That they don't have a date yet because they need the law to take effect and they need to have some examples, but they do have people actually drafting the paperwork to get ready to do this. Cornell, you run the numbers. The American people support this law. The people of Arizona support this law. Smart to sue?

BELCHER: Well here's the thing. When you get inside the numbers, most people inside the numbers don't actually understand the law and what's happening in Arizona right now -- you know and here's the thing. Popularity shouldn't get in the way when something is wrong legally or right legally. And again, I'm not a lawyer. What's happening here in Arizona and what a lot of sort of Democrats would argue is that yes you can get tough on immigration; yes you can get tough on security and borders.

But this goes too far because this sort of locks in discrimination in a way that's not helpful and I would even argue that it gives government even more power to arbitrarily to pull people over and take advantage of their rights. So I would go even farther than that, so I don't want to speak on sort of what the legalities of it, but I'll tell you that most people don't understand what this law actually is.

KING: What happens in an election year, Ed Rollins, if they file suit over this law?

ROLLINS: Well first of all there's two issues that need to be debated here. One is all of those governors that are Republicans right across that border would be very happy if the federal government basically enforced the immigration laws that are here today in which you can't come across the border illegally. The second thing, Cornell, you're a numbers guy.

President Bush wanted to have an immigration bill. President Obama says he does. You have majorities in the House and the Senate. Any time you guys want to bring an immigration bill forward you can do that. But I promise you, you try and do it in this cycle you're going to pay a bigger price than you're already going to pay in this election and I welcome it.


ROLLINS: The third thing -- let me just say this -- not -- I hate (INAUDIBLE) governors in the White House. Not notifying a governor when you're going to sue that state is outrageous and it's going to make every one of those governors down there really unhappy.

ERICKSON: I think the politics of this are awkward all around for a lot of Republicans and Democrats. You have John McCain in Arizona now running in a tough primary against J.D. Hayworth who's running ads walking along the fence saying build the dang fence when he -- that's dang -- d-a-n-g when he was several years ago passing (INAUDIBLE) of immigration without strong border security.

You have Barack Obama trying to sue Arizona. You have people in Arizona up in arms. I was in Arizona last week, didn't meet a single person, even some Democrats who were in the room with me who were opposed to this bill. And it seems commonsensical to enforce immigration law and as Ed said the federal government could do it any time they wanted. They're just not.

BELCHER: And Ed is right. I mean to his credit, he's absolutely right. If I had my druthers, I would say don't take on health care and don't take on immigration. Don't take on those big things that keep -- we keep kicking down the road. But this is a president who has shown some of the courage and leadership say you know what, just because it's not popular, just because I may take some political hits for it, we're going to lay a stronger foundation for the country and do it, so I think he -- we really are going to take on immigration reform.

KING: To Ed's point about the governor, she says she's outraged. She was here a while back and she said, bring it on. You want to sue me; I'll see you in court, Mr. President. I got a good record, but she says to learn about this by seeing some interview for the secretary of state not the way to do business. Listen.


GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: That is just totally outrageous and the people of Arizona would have to get this information vis-a-vis a blog from the president of our country, from Hillary Clinton in Ecuador, it's -- that they're going to sue us without coming straight to the state of Arizona and notifying me personally. It's outrageous and it's unacceptable.


KING: In its defense the White House says we're planning but we're not right there to pull the switch just yet.


ERICKSON: Of course, that's what they're saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots of luck on that one.


BELCHER: I don't think the White House wanted it to come out this way quite frankly.

KING: You think?


ERICKSON: You know for a White House that is very image-obsessed someone had to have sent a memo to Secretary of State Clinton to tell her not helpful. I mean this may be their Joe Barton moment of the week.

ROLLINS: Well there's two things (INAUDIBLE). Appointing Governor Mabus, who is the secretary of the Navy and we are in two wars and there are a lot of Marines fighting in both of the wars. To all of a sudden let him be a part-time Gulf restorer when you have a Republican governor of Mississippi, Republican governor of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, it's not a great strategy either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Ed slipped one in on us.

KING: He did. He got (INAUDIBLE). That's because it's been such a busy and eventful week. Gentlemen --


KING: -- Ed Rollins, Erick Erickson, Cornell, we'll see you a little bit later. And we've got a lot more to come in the program. Later we're going to go "Wall-to-Wall". We're going to break some important new economic numbers today and watch the president. He goes out on the road to try to sell the stimulus plan.

Then we'll go -- wait, wait, wait in "One-on-One" Peter Sagal of NPR among the topics, the power, the power of Oprah.

On our "Radar" tonight some fascinating topics including this controversy about Elena Kagan -- does the NRA equal the KKK? And we'll also break down politically the power of Palin.

And in the "Play-by-Play" tonight, don't miss this, Sheriff Joe. We also call him Mr. Vice President. You'll hear what he's talking about and one candidate who lost his primary well you're going to see him take a parting shot.


KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight the strength and the politics of the economy -- at the top of the program I asked you to remember two numbers, 58 and four. Let's do the four first as we take a peek here. Here's a map of the United States. See those states that are highlighted in the orange, well they happen to be the top 10 in terms of unemployment, Michigan, 13.4 percent, Nevada now 14 percent. That's where the four comes in. Again, look at these numbers. These are the 10 top states with a high rate of unemployment.

Why does four matter? Let's make these go away. I want to bring this out and show you. Because for four years, four years until today, Michigan had the ranking as number one in the country in terms of unemployment, the state with the highest unemployment rate. We go all the way back to 2006, around six percent, got slightly under six percent. We're in 2008. We're still hovering around six percent and now watch it climb.

2008, the recession takes hold, 2009, up around 14 percent. Cracks 14 percent and now just this last month when it came back down to 13.6, Michigan is no longer head of a list no state wants to lead. That dubious distinction now goes to Nevada. And now to 58 -- that's how many minutes the president was on the ground today in the state of Ohio. He flew to Columbus to celebrate the 10,000th project funded with stimulus spending. The president says the plan is working. You know many people say it isn't. But the president also acknowledged in his remarks he knows many people still aren't convinced the economy is on the rebound.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm under no illusion that we're where we need to be at. I know that a lot of families and communities have yet to feel the effects of recovery in their own lives. There are still too many people here in Ohio and across the country who can't find work. Many more can't make ends meet. And for these folks, the only jobs we create that matter are the ones that provide for their families.


KING: That trip the beginning of a six-week push by the White House to convince people, yes, the economy is starting to come back, and, yes, its programs are one of the reasons our senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry to help us understand -- Ed the politics of the economy, boy, what a short trip.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was. Absolutely, I mean look they want to tout the stimulus, but then you know Vice President Biden was here at the White House yesterday and I pressed him on the fact that even though they're saying the stimulus is working unemployment is up to 9.7 percent. They predicted a year or so ago at this time would be 7.5 percent. They have a problem there, so they want to hit the road.

The president wants to do it quickly. It costs a lot of money, maybe you know close to $1 million sometimes on these trips, as you know, Secret Service, moving the media around, et cetera. There's a lot of money that goes around with the presidency. He wants to get back here though because you know he'll be criticized if he lingers in Ohio, maybe for not getting back to Washington, dealing with the oil spill, dealing with other things he has to do here.

But also I've noticed contextually a pattern for this president. He's got two young daughters at home, so we do very little travel overnight out of Washington. He often gets back here in the afternoon because he wants to see his daughters when they come home from school. And the other thing on a lighter note, tonight the president right now is at the Washington Nationals baseball game. They're playing his home town Chicago White Sox, he probably wanted to get home for that, but also Stephen Strasburg the pitching phenom for the Nationals, he's on the mound for his third Major League game. You can't blame the president for wanting to get out there and maybe see the game.

KING: You can't blame the president at all for that. And by the way, Stephen Strasburg might be the best stimulus program -- economic stimulus program for southeast Washington in quite some long time --

HENRY: That's right. I was at the opening game and we spent a lot of money there, so you're right.

KING: Oh, see, there you go. Baseball is not that cheap. Ed Henry, thanks. We'll see you in a bit.

When we come back, we go "One-on-One" with -- wait, wait, wait -- don't tell me -- Peter Sagal. Don't go anywhere. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

KING: The BP oil spill dominated the news this week, but, hey, there are plenty of other things happening as well. Wait -- wait -- don't tell me. That's why we have our Friday get-togethers with Peter Sagal. He's obviously as you know the host of NPR's weekly quiz show about current events and Peter is in Chicago today. Let's start with the oil spill because if Tony Hayward were a guest on your program -- wait, wait, don't tell me -- how many points would he get for this?


TONY HAYWARD, BP CEO: I'm afraid I can't recall that.

I don't recall that either, I'm afraid. I don't recall the time (INAUDIBLE).

I can't recall that number, I'm afraid.


PETER SAGAL, HOST, "WAIT, WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!": You know, it's interesting, John, because one of the things we do with our celebrity guests is we play a game called "not my job" in which we ask them questions about things they know nothing about, so obviously the topic for Mr. Hayward would be running a large multinational company, cleaning up oil spills, cleaning up your own messes, taking responsibility for anything. We could probably choose from any of them. He was not my favorite though BP executive this week. I was a big fan of the chairman of the company, Carl Svenson (ph) I think his name was --

KING: Svanberg.

SAGAL: Excuse me -- Svanberg. I apologize to him and all Swedes and his expression of concern for the small people.

KING: Let's listen to that. Let's listen and let me interrupt you because he came out of the White House, he was there, sit across the table and then in the Oval Office with the president of the United States, a high stakes negotiation, he comes out and Mr. Svanberg is asked to describe the president and he says --


CARL-HENRIC SVANBERG, BP CHAIRMAN: He comes across as a -- he's frustrated because he cares about the small people, and we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care. But that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people.


KING: Well, it's all resolved now. He cares. SAGAL: He cares about the small people. A lot of people said -- and I'm sure you heard this on your show -- that it's not really fair. He's not a native English speaker. He was probably translating from the Swedish in his mind. It is true I care about the small people is actually an idiomatic phrase in Swedish. It means bite me, America.

KING: Now, you're not being very fair but you're being funny.


KING: It's got to be tough for this guy though. He's sitting across from the president. English is not his first language, but you would think that with all the money they have they would have had a public relations team that worked this one out before he walked into that one.

SAGAL: Yes, I mean you have to wonder. Actually I don't know if you saw this. But getting back to Hayward when he made his opening statement in front of Congress, somebody realized that it was word for word the commercial that he had filmed for BP. It had been prepared entirely by his PR team, and I think they should just be grateful that he did that commercial and not that really good Old Spice commercial which was the second choice. He would have stood in front of Congress and said, your men can smell like me and that may not have gone over so well.

KING: No, probably not. Another person whose words we've been watching closely as he deals with this crisis is the president of the United States and I want you to listen because if you track what President Obama is saying some of it sounds eerily familiar.


OBAMA: We are going do everything we can 24/7 to make sure that communities get back on their feet and in the end I am confident that we are going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Across the Gulf Coast among people who have lost much and suffered much and given to the limit of their power. We are seeing that same spirit, a core of strength that survives all hurt, a faith in God no storm can take away, and a powerful American determination to clear the ruins and build better than before.


KING: Better than before. I guess that's the Bush standard.

SAGAL: Yes. I guess the comparison here is Obama to Bush. My immediate reaction is I don't think Obama will be just like President Bush unless he goes and cleans up the wrong Gulf like if you were to send everybody to the Persian Gulf, then maybe you could make that comparison. It is kind of funny that President Obama has not learned that you shouldn't make promises that are difficult to keep. Better than before? I mean, maybe he should have come out and said, you know, I think we can probably make the gulf -- keep it at its current level of mediocrity, keep expectations low, I think. It might have been insulting, but then people wouldn't be able to hold it against him later.

KING: Another big crisis that President Bush had to deal with was 9/11. And you're in Chicago, you work out of Chicago, now, and President Bush came to Chicago not long after 9/11 and he said something that was mocked but, but again, follow this timeline.


GEORGE W BUSH (R), FMR UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida, take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed.

BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We were ready to step into the strong current of history and to answer a new call for our country, but the call never came. Instead of a call to service, we were asked to shop.

People want to know what they can do to help folks down here. One of the best ways to help is to come down here and enjoy the outstanding hospitality.


SAGAL: You know, you have to imagine the media in the Oval Office. President Obama says to his staff, he says, look, I don't want to repeat President Bush's mistake. I don't want to ask the American people just to shop. What else are they good at? What can I ask them to do? And his aide said, well, we looked into it and pretty much shopping is it, that's what they like to do. I mean honestly, you know, look what we've done for the ShamWow. A nation that could make the ShamWow phenomenon could really solve anything by shopping.

KING: I think that's excellent advice. All right, I'm going to stay in Chicago because, as you know as someone who works in Chicago, Oprah is the queen, she's the mayor, I think she plays left-wing for the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. If she feels like it she could star for the Cubs or the White Sox any night of the week. She was asked by our Don Lemon in an exclusive conversation, what about all this criticism of the president and his handling of the oil spill?


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I think the president is doing the best anybody can. I really don't understand what people want him to do. I think he's the president of the United States, you're not supposed to be emotional. You're supposed to take action and get things done and make sure those things happen. So, I really don't know what it is people want him to do.


SAGAL: Well, you know, it's not surprising, of course, that Oprah is defending the president. She, of course, installed him in power and is the controlling force behind the throne, so that's what you'd expect to happen.

It is weird, though that we are talking -- President Obama himself was caught talking to some people in the gulf about the fact that he's just the president, there's only so much he can do. Maybe the best way of summing it up is for him to go around and look at people and go, look, I'm not Oprah. I mean, what do you want? Cars? Honestly. What? You know, he's just the president.

KING: Peter Sagal, thank you. We'll see you next week.

And next, you get to make your case. Are the media fairly covering President Obama's handling of the oil spill? Plus, I'll share the stories popping up on political radar.


KING: Every Friday, the most important person you don't know -- well, it's actually somebody you know. It's you. It's part of our commitment to bring you into the conversation. Every Monday we ask you a question and we give you all week to make your case by posting a video to the Web site, This week's question: are the media fairly covering President Obama's handling of the oil spill? Here's a sampling of what you think.


DAVID DAVENPORT, ST LOUIS, MO: It varies with the outlet.

ADRIANA MAXWELL: When it comes down to covering the president, what everybody wants, for the most part, is factual information.

REGINA, MARYLAND: They are very critical, as they should be, because it's been 54 days since the oil spill, and it's urgent now as it was day-one.

ROGUE RODRIGUEZ, NEW YORK, NY: I think the media is not doing enough to really show the public what's really going on.

RICHARD WIGHTMAN, PHOENIX, AZ: The media's done a fair job of portraying Obama's handling of the spill.

HOLLY NEWTON, SALT LAKE CITY, UT: Don't slant the questions to accommodate the president, but actually ask honest questions that he can hopefully answer honestly.


KING: Pretty good mix there. Let's get a pretty good mix here in the room. Cornell Belcher, Democratic strategist with us. Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry is over at the White House and conservative Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief for is here in Atlanta, tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unfair, by the way.

KING: What's unfair?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media's covering. It's unfair.

KING: It's unfair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's on Oprah, for crying out loud.


KING: That's going to be carried over from the last segment. Is it even -- I mean, that was a pretty decent mix.

ERICK ERICKSON, REDSTATE.COM: Yeah, I think it was a pretty decent mix. And by and large, yeah, you know, the responses to the questions from some of the people, the oil's still spilling, they're asking the hard questions. And this, again, is why I think this Joe Barton comment isn't going to last long. When people keep seeing the live shot of the oil coming out, that's the issue, and the oil is still leaking. The media has these questions to ask and they love that underwater camera.

KING: Ed, do they think we're asking the White House we're asking the right questions, we're being fair to the president? I thinking not.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've been pretty frustrated with some of the coverage. On the other hand, when you talk to them privately, they realize that this is a serious crisis. Obviously the president addresses from the Oval Office. And they know there are going to be tough questions. They think some of them have been out of bounds, but they sharply disagree with Erick, by the way about Joe Barton, they don't think that one's going away.


If they had anything to do with it it's going to stick around for a long time. Apologizing to BP was a big, big mistake.

KING: Well, let's move on to some stories of my radar tonight, because the politics of oil continues. Representative, she's a Republican, Michele Bachmann, says her political opponents are scrapping the bottom of the barrel and distorting her views on BP's $20 billion escrow fund. Check out the ads that are already out there. Bachmann says these claims are false.


ANNOUNCER: But, Michele Bachmann calls making BP paying for the clean-up is extortion and said, "If I was the head of BP I would let the signal out there 'we're not going to be chumps.'" If Bachmann lets BP off the hook, guess who's going to be paying for it? Us.


KING: Her opponents jumped in pretty quick here.

DANA BASH, CNN SR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, that's exactly from her opponent. That's a brand-new ad, today. And I talked to Chris Van Holland who is the Democrat in charge of getting Democrats elected. And he looked happier than he's looked in a long time with regard to the politics of oil when it comes to Democrats, because they really believe that what Joe Barton said is a huge gift. That is just going to be the first of many ads that they are going to run or that the Democratic National Committee has another one. And you know what, Republicans today, when it comes to Joe Barton, not all of them, but those some, those at least from the Gulf Coast, they made clear, they're not going to let this go away.

KING: Cornell, you're a numbers guy, you do the polling. Earlier on when the stimulus passed it took us a while to notice the skepticism out in the public. They don't trust any big institution, it's not so much personal to President Obama. Most people say you got $20 billion out of BP, that's great, you got some money to hold these SOBs accountable, you're going to pay these people off. Is there any sense out there, though, that because government is involved will it somehow become controversial?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, anytime, that's the problem, Any time you sort of talk about the government, right now, involved with anything, because Americans are so cynical about government, so cynical about government, they're cynical about big corporations, in fact, you talk to voters in both groups they think the government is in cahoots with big corporations against them. So anytime, you sort of involve government and it automatically throws a wet towel over it. Well, one quick thing, Michele Bachmann, she still used "chumps?" I mean, who uses the term "chump" anymore?


ERICKSON: There's a worthwhile issue here with this. There is the story that peculated yesterday about the Democrats possibly considering using part of this $20 billion for something or other related to health care. Stories like that get lodged in people's mind regardless of the details when they already hate government this bad it makes them even more suspicious.

KING: Sure, they hate government, but on the other hand this is not a tax payer bailout at this point. This is the corporation that is culpable here, putting up money and that's why the White House feels it's in a strong position.

ERICKSON: Only Joe Barton disagrees with that one.


KING: All right, we'll keep an eye on that one. I want to go back one -- this could become a very crackling political story and it's developing tonight. The "National Review Online" started this conversation asking whether Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is hostile to gun rights based on a 1996 memo, it was about pending legislation where she put the initials NRA and KKK under a heading that says, "bad guy orgs," bad guy organizations. The White House wasted no time to try to shot down the story.

"It's simply not credible to suggest that these jotted down notes represent anything but preliminary research on legal questions about what organizations would be covered under the legislation, and the organizations discussed reflect the public debate over the legislation at the time."

This is a very complicated legal issue. I remember the debate from the time. It was about product liability. Essentially, if a gun that was used in a crime or if anything that was bought ended up in part of something bad, how could you trace product liability back, who is accountable.

But, Erick, to you first. When she was first nominated people said will this be, you know, Armageddon. Will this be a big, huge Supreme Court battle? In the spring it's been a yawner. Is guns now going to be a big issue?

ERICKSON: You know, guns may, in fact, the NRA has had this issue this week where they compromise with the Democrats on a piece of legislation called the Disclose Act relating to campaign finance reform. A lot of conservative groups were very upset, myself included. They've got damage control to do. It took them a while to be cajoled and pushed to come out against Sotomayor. They may not have to do that now. They may come out aggressively against Elena Kagan up front. It would be against the people they rally to, to do damage to the other issue, but also to defend themselves.

KING: Ed, how do they feel about this? I'm holding up the document here, because this is courtesy of the Clinton Presidential Library. When you're serving in government everything you do becomes part of the public record. Ed, we all take notes. Reporters take notes, pollsters take notes, and Erick, you write all the time and you know, half of what you think or a third of what we think ends up on the page, they're bullet points to remind us. But, she has have NRA, KKK within a couple of inches of each other. Fairly or unfairly, this will be a weapon.

HENRY: You're right. But, I'm glad you mentioned it in that context, because what they're saying is, it's important to note that Elena Kagan did not write the original memo suggesting perhaps that the KKK and NRA would be lumped together and would be known as "bad guys."

Instead, she was on phone, talking about this memo and writing down notes about it. Now, obviously we weren't there in 1996. We don't know all the details, but what the White House is insisting is that she did not lump the KKK and the NRA together originally. She was repeating the debate at the time. nevertheless, you're right, it's going to be something, it will come up at the hearings, but I think bottom line behind the scenes at the White House, if this is going to be the flashpoint at the hearings, they really think she's going to be confirmed.

BASH: And one thing that Kagan has going for her in terms of the subplot here, is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy is a gun owner and he is already saying through his spokesperson, I spoke to her earlier today that he does intend to ask herb her feelings regarding the second amendment, but it is in many ways going to be leading the witness because she's got kind of a defender and he can bridge that gap for her because he can say, look, I'm a supporter of gun rights and I think she's OK.

ERICKSON: My side's not going to like this, but let me just tell you, I've talked to a lot of Republican senators, I don't know a single one yet who think she's going to be defeated even this.

BELCHER: And the thing is, I mean, this is unfair, but this is classic politics, I mean, it's classic politics, it's a classic sort of Republican bogeyman that out looking for someone to scare. She's going to take away our guns. We see it time and time again, taxes, guns, the whole nine yards, it's a classic Republican strategy.

KING: All right, a quick time-out, but keep the issue of guns in your head, because when we come back, he lost the Republican primary, now he has a former rival in his sights. Wait until you see this set.


KING: If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know right now. Late this afternoon, the man the president put in charge of the $20 billion gulf claims fund promised to get things up and running quickly. Kenneth Feinberg urges gulf residents to quickly fill out and then quickly submit all of their claims forms.

Tonight there are new calls for GOP Congressman Joe Barton to step down from a powerful committee post. Barton called the compensation fund a "slush fund" and apologized to the CEO of BP.

Cornell Belcher...

ANNOUNCER: Here comes the play-by-play.

I'm a little ahead of myself, there. Cornell Belcher, Dana Bash with tonight, for a little Friday night Play-by-Play. I wanted to start -- we all have names and nicknames, I want to start with a moment at the White House where we learned he was the scrappy kid from Scranton in the presidential campaign, but at the White House the vice president is...


PETER ORSZAG, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIR: It is therefore my pleasure to introduce to you, Sheriff Joe, our vice president, Mr. Biden.

JOE BIDEN (D), US VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. If I'm Sheriff Joe, I got one helluva posse.


KING: I'm not sure if he meant Peter Orszag as in his posse, the budget director, there, or the press guys out in front of him. I'm not sure whether they're ready to join.


BASH: I think what was interesting is that he did not curse.


KING: That's a big deal.

BASH: It is a big deal.

BELCHER: That is a big deal. Thank you, Joe.

KING: All right, you don't have a lot to say about Joe's posse. That's fine. He gets very -- at this briefing about this stimulus program, he was very fired up about it's working, it's working, trust me, it's working. The president today, went out to Columbus, Ohio. It was a very quick trip. But it was to celebrate the 10,000th project, they say. And I want you to listen, this is the president of the United States explaining how the economy works. I call this the "Leggo effect."


OBAMA: The city is using recovery dollars to rebuild the infrastructure, and because of that, in part, the hospital is expanding its operation to take even better care of more people, more children here in Columbus and throughout Ohio, which means they're hiring more people. So together you're creating more than 2,300 new jobs.


BELCHER: So all those pundits who said he wasn't specific enough the other night, is this specific enough for you?


He's breaking it down.

BASH: No, I mean, but actually it makes sense to talk about that in real terms that people can understand, because still, I know, you know when you go out and cover campaigns, especially for these Democrat who are in tough races, still the very first vote that they had to take on a huge, huge spending bill, that they're still suffering for it and that is the stimulus bill because Republicans are saying, look, they're just like President Obama, big spender, doesn't care about your money, they want to flush it down the toilet.

KING: To that point, it was really interesting at that event, and we'll see whether it works or not, but he specifically, by name, pointed out some of the House Democrat who are in tough races in the state of Ohio saying, you know, he voted for it, she voted for it, he voted -- give them credit.

BELCHER: Here's the thing. I mean, they can't run away from it and the truth of the matter is, you know, this has pulled us up from a nosedive. We were losing 700,000 jobs, not we're not losing jobs, we actually have more jobs -- people hiring than firing right now, so If this goes on, we get more credit for it, I think we'll be fine.

KING: Any evidence in the numbers yet that people are starting to think...

BELCHER: No, they're not feeling it yet. They really aren't. But they will.

BASH: Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

KING: All right. I want to come back to a guy, Dale Peterson, who is a colorful candidate who's no longer a candidate. But we bought one of Dale Peterson's early ads to the national stage. Dale Peterson lost the primary, he's running for Alabama agricultural commissioner, a race everyone around America is following in this mid- term election year, the agricultural commissioner in Alabama. Well, he lost and now he's endorsing one of his former rivals.


DALE PETERSON, EX-CANDIDATE: I want all my supporters to vote for John McMillan in the runoff July 13. And that dummy with all his illegal campaign contributions can head on back to his chicken farm.

Hey, you. Hey. Get away from that.

I'm endorsing John McMillan because he gives a rip about Alabama and I'd better not catch any thugs or criminals stealing his yard signs.


KING: Yes, sir.

BELCHER: In the District of Columbia he would be arrested for a felony right now, but in Alabama, he's all right.

BASH: But he's not in the District of Columbia, no, not at all.

KING: Can you do that anywhere else?

BELCHER: Loved it.

BASH: No, they can't. You know, I play -- that's the point, play to your base. First of all play to your base, but second of all, it's nice to see people having a little fun in politics. I mean, I know this is controversial, I get that, but he's trying to be a little bit funny.

BELCHER: But to the people he's going after, that's not very controversial at all. That's good. That's a good ad.

KING: All right, I'm going to try. Marv Albert's voice bring us into this segment, I'm going to try to do a more of Albert, here. Let's go straight to the wall here and look, it's a tie game, it's late, the United States has rallied back, it's 2-2 in the world cup. U.S. versus Slovenia and yes, right? Right 3-2, right? Oh. Wait a minute. Let's take another look here. A lot of contact. A lot of contact. Boom!

BELCHER: That's foul.

KING: Well, now the inevitable result, the goal gets waved off, and -- my experience here is limited to recreational soccer from my children. The goal was disallowed.

BELCHER: So when does real football start?


KING: All right.

BASH: I'm sorry. I couldn't get past the horns.

KING: All right, Dana, Cornell, thanks for being with us on a Friday night.

You've heard it before. What do you get the man who has everything? Well, what should the president get this father's day? Pete on the Street, he's got some suggestions.


KING: Don Lemon filling in for Campbell Brown, tonight. Let's head up to New York get a sense of what's coming up at the top of the hour.

Hey, Don.

LEMON: Hello there, John. You know, with BP already the target of over 200 lawsuits there are questions being raised tonight about the judge who may hear those cases. Our Special Investigations Unit is digging into that.

I also have a one-on-one interview with Oprah Winfrey. She tells me how she thinks the president is doing down in the gulf. And later, we'll have the latest on the FDA's controversial decision about the drug being touted as female Viagra.

And, John, I heard you talking about the U.S. versus Slovenia. I have a little surprise for you.


Excuse me.

KING: This is where I'm supposed to say thank you, right?


LEMON: Is that the most annoying sound you've ever heard or what?

KING: You know, to each his own. To those who love it, god bless them. I'm not a fan.


LEMON: Thanks, John. Have a good weekend, all right?

KING: All right, Don.

Part of having a good weekend is that this weekend is that it's Father's Day. Our off-beat reporter, Pete Dominick is looking into just what's the ideal Father's Day.

PETE DOMINICK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John King. What is the best thing to give to the man who has everything, the president of the United States and just to have fun and beat up on Tony Hayward, the BP's CEO, I asked him what his kids should get him, as well.


President Obama, what should his daughters get him for Father's Day? And can you lower yourself a little bit?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you give the president?

DOMINICK: So many things miss, like a car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, a car would work.

DOMINICK: Yeah, great idea.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They should by a carton of cigarettes because he loves lower, and should lower the taxes on them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cook him a nice breakfast in the morning.

DOMINICK: A breakfast in bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tie like everybody else.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are those purposes full of money and I really am just getting love?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What should his father's get him for Father's Day, babe. The iPad.

DOMINICK: Sir, are you projecting? Is that what you want? I see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would probably use a massage.

DOMINICK: You know who else could use a massage.

That's right. That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a good looking man and some cologne on him.

DOMINICK: I'm sure cologne is for ugly men. I wear a ton of it.


DOMINICK: A hammock.


DOMINICK: That wouldn't go over well.


DOMINICK: He's a Chicago fan.

What are you going to get for your daddy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to make him something.

DOMINICK: You're just going to make him something.

What should the head of BP, Tony Hayworth, what should his kids get him for Father's Day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A mop and a bucket.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something for small people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A session with a psychiatrist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A large bag to put over his little head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little note from his daughter saying, I'm sorry, daddy, but the heartache that America is causing you.



And John King, I want to wish you on this Friday, a happy Father's Day to you, John King, sir.

KING: Right back at you, my friend, enjoy the weekend. You enjoy yours as well. Thanks for being with us. Don Lemon takes it away, right now.