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John King, USA
BP Oil Spill
Aired June 16, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks, Wolf and good evening.
Count day 58 as a day of progress, no, not on the biggest problem. The BP oil spill continues tonight with no certain end in sight and with it an environmental and economic catastrophe. Nearly 24 hours later, there is a fascinating debate tonight about the president's big speech. In a bit, we'll share with you a unique look of the analysis across the social media spectrum.
But first, a few things you need to know and a few steps in the right direction. BP has agreed to at least a $20 billion escrow fund to pay the claims of those hurt by its spill. It will also create a separate $100 million fund to pay oil industry workers affected by the president's six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling.
BP also quieted a political storm in the United States, but perhaps angered some big investors around the world by deciding it would not pay any new shareholder dividends this year. All this from a White House summit described as polite and business-like -- top BP officials across the table from the president and his team. Sorry, no accounts of the president kicking you know what. But for Mr. Obama, whose handling of the crisis is being graded as so-so at best, it was a chance to claim progress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What this is about is accountability. At the end of the day, that's what every American wants and expects.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: For 57 days, the president not once talked to a top BP official. But today he spent time at the big negotiating session, and also met one-on-one with BP's chairman in the oval office. Maybe this was a lost in translation moment. In America we talk of the little guy or the blue collar worker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL-HENRIC SVANBERG, BP CHAIRMAN: I hear comment (ph) sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care. But that is not the case at BP. We care about the small people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And today being Carl-Hendric Svanberg meant having to say you're sorry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SVANBERG: I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the American people on behalf of all the employees in BP. Many of whom are living on the Gulf Coast and I do thank you for the patience that you have in this difficult time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Wishful thinking, to say the least to suggest there is any patience for BP along the Gulf Coast. But will today's White House oil spill summit calm some of the frayed nerves there or improve the president's image as a crisis manager?
Ed Rollins helped Ronald Reagan win the presidency and served as his White House political director. Paul Begala was a key architect of President Clinton's White House victories and like Ed, an oval office visitor when times were tough too.
Gentlemen let's start there -- Ed, to you. There has been a lot of criticism of this president. He is not tough enough with BP. He is not in charge of this spill. Can he at least on this day claim hey, look, we got some things done.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sure, absolutely. He got good results today. Obviously there is now a substantial sum of money to pay these claims that are going to be out there. And I think, you know, that was a major accomplishment. BP apologized. It may not be enough to many people, but I think at the end of the day, it's a giant step forward and the president deserves credit for it.
KING: What was interesting, Ed and Paul is there's all this talk of maybe would this be drama, would there be fighting? The president saying you know he is looking to kick a little a-s-s. But it seemed like it was very business-like and polite. Listen to the BP chairman outside describing how close he is working with the president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SVANBERG: What has been clear today is that this administration and our company are fully aligned in our interests of closing this well, cleaning the beaches, and care for those that are affected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I'm guessing they would not like to be cast as fully aligned?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely not. You notice there was not a White House official there. When this thing began, one of the many things I criticized this White House for, they allowed Coast Guard officials, career public servants who risk their lives for our country to stand as if they're equals to BP executives who you know could be under -- are under criminal investigation now. And I view BP in this yes they're our partner, but a partner in the same way like a serial killer is a partner with the sheriff.
The serial killer knows where the bodies are buried and only he can go dig them up. But it doesn't mean he is the moral equivalent of the sheriff. And I was happy that none of the Obama administration people were standing by these executives when they were out there pleading their case.
KING: That's just how you were going to put it, right, Ed?
ROLLINS: This poor president can't win. When the Republicans are saying nice things about him and the Democrats are criticizing him, he is really in bad trouble.
BEGALA: I thought he was great.
KING: One of the fascinating things though is the president gets this commitment, a $20 billion fund to start. BP is on the record now saying if it comes to more than that, they'll have to come up with more money. And yet then the president went out to talk about this achievement (INAUDIBLE) progress. But he also knows for BP to pay the money, BP has to stay viable, and so you have the president of the United States essentially telling the market this is a good company.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I'm absolutely confident BP will be able to meet its obligations to the Gulf Coast and to the American people. BP is a strong and viable company and it is in all of our interests that it remain so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Odd place for the president of the United States.
BEGALA: Absolutely. But you know BP because of their client, their stock price, the cost of this is nothing to them, they have lost over $80 billion in market cap. That's the thing the president is worried about. He wants that 20 billion. This is, as Joe Biden might say, this is a BFD. This is a big financial deal for the government of the United States.
And I know -- God bless the president for holding him to the fire that 20 billion was the highest mark anyone had set. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, had sent a letter. And when you send a letter beginning a negotiation you start at you know everything you could possibly dream of. I know Mary Landrieu helped him -- the senator from Louisiana helped Harry Reid peg that number at 20 billion. President Obama delivered the whole thing. So Democrats, Republicans too, I think Americans are very proud of the way he negotiated this.
KING: Ed, how hard is it in a crisis like this when you've got a privately held company that is in a crisis coming into a White House that has a political crisis. How hard is it to choreograph the pictures, choreograph the language? Both have to say the same thing. But as Paul noted, they don't really want to be partners, or at least the White House --
ROLLINS: No, they don't. And pictures are very important. I mean we live in a television age. And the imagery is very important from the oval office speech last night to who was outside today. The key thing I think which has not been discussed very much is the federal government now has the responsibility to make these decisions which is going to be very critical. And they had better be implemented in a smooth way.
If I'm a fisherman and I've lost my business, I'm now going to go to a government bureaucrat and hopefully I'll get some of this money. But if I get turned down and have to go to court, what have you, I'm going to blame Obama and I'm going to blame the federal government. BP has now kind of passed the buck in a way, big bucks, $20 billion worth of bucks and I'd much rather have it that way but there is a big task ahead. And this poor gentleman that's in charge of all of this who has already done the 9/11 and certainly done the compensation on Wall Street, he's got a massive task ahead of him.
KING: That he does. Another interesting day will come tomorrow. We have obtained -- this is a copy of Tony Hayward, the BP America CEO -- he will testify to Congress tomorrow. This is his testimony right here where he says I'm sorry, that the deaths of these 11 workers on that rig have deeply affected him.
That BP will investigate and get this right. He says everything in here I think he would say everything that any good public relations consultant would tell him to say. He is in for a rough time because I'm going to hold up something we brought back from our trip. We were down in the Gulf for six days and if we can zoom in on this. This is a t-shirt "I want my life back too".
Tony Hayward of course famously quoted as saying "I need this to end because I want my life back". This is one of the most unpopular men in America. And our Dana Bash, our senior congressional correspondent and my wife hooked up with the chairman tomorrow who will be questioning Tony Hayward, Bart Stupak, and he said he is in for a tough time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BART STUPAK (D-MI), ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE.: Members are angry. Members are frustrated. I don't know what happened at the White House other than I'll say congratulations to both the president and BP for getting this agreement, but members are (INAUDIBLE).
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What about you?
STUPAK: As they should -- I will be fair, but firm.
BASH: I saw somewhere that you were quoted as saying that he'll be sliced and diced.
STUPAK: But fairly sliced and diced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How do we fairly slice and dice somebody?
BEGALA: Much of this is self-inflicted wounds from Mr. Hayward, famously saying I want his life back. Congress and I think this same committee heard from Christopher Jones (ph). Christopher Jones' (ph) brother was killed. Was one of those 11 men, Gordon Jones (ph) was killed on that rig. And he came to Congress and he said you know I'd like my brother's life back and it was heartbreaking testimony.
You know Bart Stupak, those other members of Congress when they hear stuff like that they're not Republicans and Democrats, they're brothers or sisters or mothers or fathers. And Mr. Hayward has a lot to apologize for, not only the apparent malfeasance afterward, but the callousness. I mean not only the malfeasance during the crisis when the rig blew, but the callousness he showed afterwards.
ROLLINS: Well tomorrow what he needs to do is just take a piece of adhesive tape, write ever last punching bag on it and put it right across his forehead because he is going to be banged and battered. And there is nothing he can say that is going to appease these guys. These guys want a pound of flesh. They're going to perform as Congress often does up in that banister, and this guy is going to get the crap beat out of him. And he might as well just go in there and get in a Buddha mode or whatever because he can't answer the questions and he can't resolve or make anybody feel any better.
KING: More important developments on this story today -- Ed and Paul are going to stay with us. When we come back, James Carville will join the conversation as well as we discuss further new developments today from that White House oil summit. Stay with us.
KING: Important developments today in the BP oil spill. Let's continue the conversation with Paul Begala here in studio; Ed Rollins joins us from New York; and now on the telephone our CNN contributor James Carville as well. James, heading into president's speech, you have been somewhat critical of him in the early days after the spill saying the president needed to be tougher. I want you to listen to a sampling last night where the president was talking about this domestic recovery response operation like a commander in chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we're waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens. Tonight I'd like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward. Make no mistake we will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes. There will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: And today, James, he has the meeting with BP officials and does get some substance agreed to -- a good day?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (via phone): A very good day -- excellent day. And I guess there is real skin in this game. This is $20 billion. As Paul pointed out, this is a high-end figure. And this was a superb day. Probably the best day we've had since April and I'm for sure the best day since April 20th. And the president deserves to be credited for this.
And you know BP they -- you know they (INAUDIBLE) fees, they're a big one, but they put up the money and you know this is a good start and this -- you know they got a very serious guy that is heading this thing up. I would -- one caution to my neighbors in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast is we have a very tough hombre for a U.S. attorney down there and if anybody is thinking about filing any false claims and clogging the system up, I would advise against it.
They got people who have really been adversely affected by this who are owed this money. It's sad that a top-flight guy there distributed and let's just be sure that it gets done very fairly, very equitably, and we have -- we pay all the legitimate claims of people that have really been hurt by this.
KING: The BP team came outside the White House and stopped what we call the stakeout location to speak to reporters. And in doing so, the chairman apologized. He said BP would keep its commitments. And then he said something that got him in a little hot water. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SVANBERG: It comes across as -- he is 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now Chairman Svanberg is from Sweden. And we looked at a translator and small people, little people, it translates it about the same, but on Twitter and the social media universal (ph) went crazy after that saying what is he trying to say.
BEGALA: Yes, I really hate BP. But that's an unfair rap on their chairman. I think it is an honest mistake of translation. And for me to cut them slack I think pretty extraordinary. I just compared them to serial killers in the last segment, John. But that's a bum rap on this guy.
He doesn't speak English as a first language. His English is a lot better than my Swedish, although if that bikini (ph) team is still around, maybe they could do a little tutoring? I hope my wife is not watching. KING: Here's another thing I want you all to weigh on because Robert Gibbs at the briefing today was talking about the importance of this $20 billion. And I'm not trying to pick a fight with Mr. Gibbs at all. But I want you to listen how he described how important this $20 billion will be to the people of the Gulf Coast who right now can't work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This provides certainty and peace of mind for those in the Gulf. If there was any wonder or concern that they would not be made whole for the disaster they didn't cause. That assurance we have today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I want to play that in contrast with a fisherman I met the other day, Nello Barber who says the only thing he wants to do is not to get a check but to get back on his boat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELLO BARBER, FISHERMAN: What has it done to me? Well, it wrecked my livelihood. My livelihood was from a teaspoon full of water to knee-deep. I'm a flounder fisherman, commercial fisherman, and it put me out of business. Just all the way out of business. And when it stopped, I mean just pure stopped us all together. We just don't have anywhere to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ed, again, not trying to pick a fight with Mr. Gibbs, but in the sense of being whole, yes. These people want a check to pay their bills to feed their families, to pay their mortgage and make their car payment. But these guys are the fishermen, whether it's in Alabama where I met Nello Barber in Plaquemines Parish near where James lives just outside of New Orleans, they're not worried about a check. They're worried about a way of life.
ROLLINS: Well and they're not going to get their way of life back and no matter what BP tries to do or the president or anybody else, the environment has been destroyed and these people's way of life has. Working people want to work. They don't want some charity check. It's good that they basically can feed their children or take care of it. But at the end of the day, they want to work and they're not going to get to work in the field and the profession that they spent their lives or their grandparents probably did too.
KING: And James, many of them think they never will again, that especially if you're in your 50s or your 60s. By the time they test that water and say it is safe to go fishing again that they'll be done.
CARVILLE: Yes, I'm not qualified to comment on that. I think that, you know, nature is pretty powerful thing. I don't know. I hope -- I know the country needs to stay on this. I think this president indicated today that he is in this for the long haul, that he is serious. We haven't had a good day yet. This is a good one. Let's try to enjoy this and we got to stay vigilant.
We have to stay on top of this thing and we got to try to do everything that we can. We owe it to these people to get their lives back and we -- the country needs the minerals, it needs petroleum, it needs the seafood. It needs the vast resources of the Louisiana coast, and the people need their life back. And we have to work real hard to see that that happens. But I got to tell you, I think 20 billion is real skin. It's a real good start here.
BEGALA: It is. And then also in that speech last night, which everybody else hated. I'm the only person who loved that speech. He made the commitment for long-term recovery and restoration plan. He assigned Ray Mavis (ph), his secretary of the Navy, former governor of Mississippi, both a guy who knows that, as the president called him a son of the Gulf Coast.
This has to be -- now to be credible, it has to be sustained. It has to be well-funded. It has to go for many, many years. But that's a big deal too. It was in that speech. It didn't get much credit for it, but and we'll hold him to that for the next year, five years, eight years, however long he is president and then frankly I think his successor too will have to be working on Gulf restoration.
KING: I want to thank Paul, thank Ed, thank James as well -- out of time for this segment, but a lot more to cover on this story because when we come back next we'll go "Wall-to-Wall" and we'll introduce you to some new language. What is the Q4000? Well it is at the moment BP's next big thing to cap and contain this oil spill.
Then we'll go "One-on-One" with the controversial sometimes Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She says the president should stand up to BP and the company should not be made chumps.
Our most important person today, Ed Rollins mentioned him earlier in the program; he is the new claims man. He gets to spend now $20 billion of BP's money. You'll want to meet him.
And in "Play-by-Play" tonight you'll love this one -- the current president and his predecessor in a shop-off of sorts and together again. Two of our most watched power players. They make a nice couple.
KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight, a latest look at the latest efforts to contain and then stop the oil flowing into the Gulf. BP brought online a new tool in its effort today. More on that in a second, but let's look at the history of this. Let's go back in time and look.
Remember, first they were going to use undersea remote operated vehicles to trigger the blowout preventer. That failed. The containment dome -- that failed. Everyone remembers top hat, top kill, the junk shot, a second containment cap is on there now. The ultimate plan to shut this down is those relief wells, two of them being drilled.
The hope is by the middle of August they will get to the right point where they can shut this down completely. But until then, the oil continues to flow. Let's take a look at just what we're talking about. If you accept the government estimate that there could be up to 60,000 barrels per day flowing, well then you would have 3.48 million barrels that have leaked. So far they have been able to collect only 160,000 plus barrels.
That means they've collected shy of five percent, short of five percent of the oil that has leaked has been collected. Well everyone knows that is too low. So BP today says it brought online this one -- we'll call this -- this is the Q4000. It was already onsite. It helped with the "top kill" operation, but it is now part of the containment operation.
Let's show you this way, go over to the "Magic Wall". We have a special 3-D animation to show you just what the Q4000 is doing. Excuse me for passing through. This is the enterprise right here. This is the ship you have heard about. The gas comes up. This is the natural gas being flared off right here. Oil is contained on this ship as well.
But I'm going to take a couple of fingers and turn this around a little bit from the back side. This is the Q4000. Again, it was used in the "top kill" operation, but now what is happened is a second line is coming up from under the water to bring more of the oil up here to help with the containment effort.
Let's go down and take a look at what we're talking about. You see the ship is on the shore here. Here is what they would like from just beneath under the water. Now we go down that mile under the sea. Remember, that's what makes this so difficult. It is 5,000 feet down. And right here you get a sense; this is the oil still leaking. Here is the wellhead underground. And again, we can take a look around at this.
This is the wellhead. You see some of the remote operated vehicles and obviously a continuing spew of oil up. Let's take a look at this. This is what it would look like if you were right in the top coming down. You can see a little bit of the pipe here, carrying oil to the shore. But because only a portion is being contained, you have so much oil still spewing into the sea. Let's turn this more upright again.
You get to take another look at it. Move it around and come up to the top like this. You see some of the remote operated vehicles here. Again, you can get a sense here from looking at how difficult this job would be because the pipes are coming up to the top of the thing from here. Now you see up we come. You follow the lines back up. We can come all the way back up to the surface. As we come back up, when you come up and you see above here on the surface.
Here is the Q4000. Here is the enterprise flaring off the natural gas, helipads on both vehicles so that people can get to them. But again, I flew over this area the other day. You're containing. You still have not capped the leak at the bottom. That a process that could take until mid-August.
When we come back, we'll go "One-on-One" with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who says BP should pay, but shouldn't get fleeced.
ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One".
KING: One of President Obama's most persistent critics is Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. "The Washington Post" Dave Weagle (ph) writes that during a Heritage Foundation speech this week Congresswoman Bachmann accused the president of quote "voting present" on the Gulf Coast oil crisis.
Weagle (ph) also writes that Bachmann told him BP has to pay legitimate claims, but quote, "if I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there we're not going to be chumps and we're not going to be fleeced."
Representative Bachmann is with us to go "One-on-One". What do you mean by that? That BP should stand up and say hey Tony Hayward, the CEO, will be up before the House tomorrow. We're not chumps. We won't be fleeced.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well first of all, I'm not here to shill (ph) for BP. That's not the goal. BP clearly is at fault here. They need to pay every last dime of damage and that's what needs to be done. But at the same time, we don't want these payouts to become political. We don't think it's a good idea for the federal government to see private industry as essentially a piggy bank for the federal government. So every claim needs to be paid out. And we actually had a process set up through the court system. That's why this was kind of an unusual process. We already had a system set up to deal with claims in the case of oil spills where a court independently without any political implications would pay out legitimate claims. Now we don't have that situation. This is an appointee from the Obama administration who will be doing the payouts. And it's the pay czar dealing with the administration. So this is very different from what we've done in the past. And while it's important that all the claims get paid, let's just make sure that this isn't a permanent ATM card.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They say, the administration says this process with Ken Feinberg, who did this for 9/11 victims will be faster. They hope more efficient than any court system would be. You disagree?
BACHMANN: Well, I don't know. I hope that that's true. I will give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt that I agree with them, that I hope that's what it will be. A lot of people don't realize that BP already had, I was curious on this, they had 600 people who were already paying out claims. There were 43,000 claims filed. 20,000 claims had already been paid off. It was in BP's best interests to make sure the claimants were satisfied otherwise the claimants could go into a court system which is far more expensive. So as long as people are getting their claims paid, everyone is happy. We want that to happen, because as you showed earlier on your tape, real people with real lives and real livelihoods are at risk right now. And it's a tragedy on a number of levels, not only personally and economically, but the environmental disaster is real and it has to be accounted for.
KING: Where do you see the risk that the government is either taking money it's not entitled to or gaining control that it shouldn't have?
BACHMANN: History of the last 18 months. Because the federal government effectively took equity ownership of AIG, a private insurance company. They took ownership of Bank of America, Citibank. They took over GM and Chrysler. They took over the entire student loan industry. Today the federal government owns over 50 percent of all private home mortgages because they own and control Fannie and Freddie. This is a complete difference in the way that the United States was run 18 months ago. But today it seems like the automatic effort from the government is let's have the federal government take over private industry. We don't want that to be the automatic response of government because we're a free market economy. And unfortunately, the Obama administration hasn't been making any efforts to unwind the government out of these private industries. We're still deep into GM, deep into Chrysler, et cetera. And I just think we don't want to have the federal government take over effectively the oil industry either.
KING: Voting present for anyone who doesn't understand the language of Washington, means you show up and get to vote yes or no, yay or nay, but you get to take a pass. You dodge the tough decision. You say the president is voting present on the gulf crisis. Did he change your mind last night with his speech? Did he change your mind today by getting BP to put up this money?
BACHMANN: I think whether a person is on the conservative side of the aisle or the liberal side of the aisle, there is unanimous agreement in panning the president's speech last night. It was seen as fairly weak. The president didn't focused precious little on the whole idea of actually stopping the leak. And the plan wasn't evident. When the president made statements, there weren't specifics. So a lot of people I think were not real happy with what they saw. Today I think people are happy that BP has made their decision. Because, again, the president didn't show what his legal authority would be for him to force BP to pay the $20 billion. But BP on their own has put this money up. One thing that does that is positive is it lets people in the United States know BP is making an admission. They've made a mistake, and they're going to be true to their word. That is a positive going forward. But again, the focus needs to be -- the main thing has to be on the main thing, John, which is stopping that leak and mitigating the damage. Unfortunately, people locally in Louisiana are saying we've had to fight the government as well as BP. Let's just be about mitigating the damage so we don't get oil into the wildlife, into the marine life, into the marshland. That's what we don't want to have happen. Because you can write a check, but we're talking about environmental degradation. We don't want that to happen. KING: Let me ask you a political question before I let you go. Your governor, Tim Pawlenty established political action committees in Iowa and New Hampshire. He says it's just about supporting candidates this year. Most people reel read into it because of the other activity that he is preparing to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. If he runs does he have your support?
BACHMANN: He is making steps I think to let himself be known. But he hasn't clearly made any decision yet. And I haven't backed in candidate yet and said I'm necessarily going to be in their team. It's very early in the process.
KING: If you could pick who would it be?
BACHMANN: Well, we'll find out. After 2010 it will become much clearer. I do know as I've been speaking to people, especially in my district in Minnesota, they see President Obama as a one-term president. So thing is a very strong likelihood that we'll see a change after this election.
KING: When you make a pick, come back and share it.
BACHMANN: I will. I promise you. Thank you, John.
KING: Thank you.
You can call today's most important person you don't know a mediator or a negotiator. But he really doesn't like to be called a pay czar, because czars, well, they're arbitrary. We'll tell you who he is, when we come back.
KING: This important story just in "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that the acting inspector general of the U.S. interior department will tell Congress tomorrow the investigation of the oil spill is taking place in a completely backwards manner. He will also testify the agency lacks sufficient guidelines and inspectors to police the industry's operations in the gulf.
Today's most important person you don't know but whose name might ring a bell is Kenneth Feinberg. He'll be charge of the $20 billion fund for victims of the BP oil spill. Feinberg's name rings a bell because he was the special master of the federal September 11th victim compensation fund. It handed out $7 billion to more than 5,000 people. He is also overseeing funds to compensate the victims of Agent Orange and the Virginia Tech shootings. He even helped arbitrate a fair market value of the Zapruder film of President Kennedy's assassination, $16 million. Feinberg is a UMASS graduate with a NYU law degree in a high powered legal firm where his name comes first. Let's talk about that and other developments with our guests, Robert Traynham, Republican strategist with us here, Mo Elleithee a Democratic strategist and our CNN and contributor in redstate.com editor-in-chief Eric Erickson joins us. Is this a job worth having right now? I mean good for Ken Feinberg for stepping up to agree to do it, but it's a tough one. MO ELLEITHEE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's a tough job but look there is no question he has the resume to do it. It is something he wakes up every morning and wishes he had? Of course not. The good thing about it is the president has confidence in him but even more importantly presumably the victims would have confidence in him as well. He is fair, he is smart, he will get the job done.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, I think that's right. If there anybody you want taking over this job, it's him. This is a guy that has done it before. He nose how to do it. He has monumental task. This is going to be the biggest one of these that he has done. But I think everyone has confidence that he will do it fairly.
KING: Eric, Congressman Bachmann was here saying why didn't they just let this go through the court process. Why did they need this superagency?
ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: You know, one of the things the superagency does, it will speed things up. This guy, he is a professional. I bet he never planned out this career trajectory he has been on with all of these. He is in a very good job. He has been very competent. Getting things out of an already overwhelmed court system I think is probably a good thing.
KING: We have agreement there. Let's see if that continues. I'm a little doubtful, though. Let's take a look at some stories on my radar. It is the season for reruns. If you slice it and dice it the right way, that even goes for presidential speeches on energy. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Can't afford those costs right now. I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy because long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices. The most important thing about these proposal series that the alternative may be a national catastrophe.
KING: One thing we do know looking at that is that HD technology and television camera technology is a whole lot better now. Is it a fair comparison?
ELLEITHEE: Look, I mean we've been talking about this for 30 years now, right? The need to get off of fossil fuels, to become a little bit more energy independent. You know, if we've been talking about it for 30 years and presidents from Carter to Obama have a been talking about it, it's about time we start to do something.
TRAYNHAM: Yes, it's a fair comparison. The reason why ask four presidents later, as Mo said, we're still talking about this. But here is the real issue. We need a leader. Someone who is going to hold our feet to the fire and pass legislation in a bipartisan way. When you take a look at Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, no one was able to bring two sides of the opposing issue together for the benefit of the common good. Let's hope that this president can do it, and let's also hope the Republicans in the Congress will stand up as well.
ERICKSON: I think there is a larger issue, though. And first of all, this isn't my Carter impression. This is actually how I sound being down here in Georgia. Carter and Obama, they both believe that government can solve problems like this. This speech last night, he has to say what he said, Obama has. And Carter then had to say what he said because they have a profound belief that government can solve these problems. Yet in this problem, like the problem Carter faced with the energy crisis, government didn't solve the problems.
KING: I'm going to head over the magic wall in just a second because the social media crowd is a very tough audience. Our friends at Crimson Hexagon analyzed 83,000 tweets and public Facebook comments about the president's speech last night. You see a graphic on the screen. I want to show you how to break this down for you. If you look at it like this, it's confusing. You have this pie chart. Let me do it this way with a little telestration, essentially split it in half over here. 27% say they're losing faith in the administration. 17% say they don't like President Obama. 12% say his style was off last night. A lot of people thought he was over-gesturing with his hands. Over on this side is more favorable. 5% say Americans should care more what is happening in the gulf. 14% say they would rather watch something else. So at least that's neutral I guess. Maybe is there a ball game on. 11% support the president. 8% want more clean energy. This is a tough review, 27% saying they're losing faith in the administration.
TRAYNHAM: I'm not surprised. When you take a look at the president's speech last night, it was highly analytical. There were no leadership words in there, if you were. A lot of analogies, but more importantly the president had the opportunity to lead and say you know what? I'm going to fix this problem. I'm going to fix it now. It's fine and good to talk about energy policy tomorrow, but let's talk about plugging the hole today. And that's what the president did not do last night.
ELLEITHEE: I love the internet. I'm on twitter. I'm on Facebook, very active on it. But it's the wild, Wild West out there, man. You got all sorts of view, people chiming in about everything. 17% of people's comments are whether or not he gesticulated too much with his hands or whether it looked like he was reading from the teleprompter too much that's maybe not what we ought to be focusing on. I think the president did do that. I think the president did say what we're going to do now. What we're going to do in the long-term. But, you know, there are a lot of people out there that are anxious. I think that's normal.
ERICKSON: It's people on the left we need to focus on. Something like 46% of daily Coach readers didn't like the speech. Robert Reich saying he campaigned for the guy, but if he can't get fired up about this, what can he get fired up about? When you set the bar at the world begins to heal and the oceans recede when I get elected you have a real high bar you set for yourself and he hasn't cleared it with this.
TRAYNHAM: I totally agree 100%. When you have Chris Matthews and some of the folks on the sister networks saying this president has not led or not convincing us that he should be in the oval office, you have a major problem.
ELLEITHEE: You have both sides hitting him. Conservative says it's too liberal. Liberals say it's not going far enough. Probably in the middle. I think what he did last night and what he did today --
ERICKSON: He showed nothing.
ELLEITHEE: Well today he showed a lot, coming up with this escrow fund and getting BP agree to pay it off. I think that's a lot.
KING: A quick time-out here, Erick, we want to thank you. Robert and Mo are going to stay with us because when we come back, a little play-by-play. Call it a little retail therapy. Will it help the gulf? Before we go to break, let's take a look at that hole. Still hasn't been plugged. 58 days.
KING: It also agreed to a separate $100 million fund for workers idled by the president's six-month moratorium on deep water drilling. Also, BP won't pay dividends for the rest of the year. BP CEO Tony Hayward testifies before Congress tomorrow. He will tell lawmakers "I fully grasp the terrible reality of the situation." When asked how Hayward would be received, Congressman Bart Stupak told CNN, "He will be sliced and diced."
Here comes the play by play.
All right. Tonight's play by play, you get the drill. We have some tape; we play it, we break it down with our pros. Mo Elleithee still with us, Robert Traynham as well, from the left and the right, although you're back on the wrong side of the table, how is that going to work?
TRAYNHAM: That's right. That's right.
KING: So the president is tested at a time of crisis. I'm going to show you a couple of moments. Here we go back to 9/11 and President Bush. Then a little something in between. And then President Obama now. Call it the shop op.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Go down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed. OBAMA: 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 -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We got a little stuck there all right. What the -- candidate Obama said we were asked to shop. President Obama Monday in Gulf Port, Mississippi, you will have to believe me the said this the tape froze there people want to know what they can do to help folks down there one of the best ways to help is to come down here and enjoy the outstanding hospitality.
TRAYNHAM: It is so interesting that when you're running for president, you can throw out all the slime balls, when you're president, you get all the slime balls, Look the fact of the matter is that president, then-Senator Obama said that and the reason why he said that, at that time, it was a very easy thing to say because he wasn't the president. Now that he is the president, he is the leader of the whole entire country and he has got to motivate people not only to go to the gulf but obviously to travel and to do what we need to do when it comes to the beaches. What's interesting here is now the president is stepping back and being much more presidential and I guarantee that you if you were to ask him, John, in the oval office, do you regret that comment, Mr. President, he would say probably yes.
ELLEITHEE: I don't think he would. I mean, back then --
TRAYNHAM: How can you say that?
ELLEITHEE: It is very simple. I think at the time when president bush said that there was no one that would argue that President Bush telling people to go about their daily lives and not let the terrorists define us was one right course of action. The problem is he didn't do anything else to unite us. He didn't do anything else to call us to service as then-Senator Obama did.
TRAYNHAM: Of course, he did.
ELLEITHEE: Now the president has a multifaceted approach to dealing with. This he has got people coming into the gulf. He is asking people to come and volunteer and he is asking them to help the very serious problem that the local fishermen, the local shopkeepers, the local restaurant owners are facing and that is their economy is dying. He is asking people to come help with that as well. It is part of a broader strategy. I think it's different.
TRAYNHAM: The only thing I would say it is eerily similar to what President Bush said a few years ago after September 11th. The analogy was almost identical go back to your daily lives, spend money, when you spend money, help the local people.
ELLEITHEE: The policies divide the country.
KING: I'm going to end this debate. I need your input here on what I will call America's favorite power couple. Charlie Crist is the governor of there elected as Republican, now running for Senate, nonparty affiliated, call that as an independent because he was getting hammered in the Republican Party for saying nice things about stimulus program and god forbid, he got a hug from the president of the United States, Barack Obama. That is one with image we have seen a lot of. Here's another.
I think I want to let the music keep playing. It says it all. I mean, what a difference, as we saw the imagery here. Charlie Crist is now more than happy to be photographed with the president. Gave him a pat on the back in Louisiana last week. You see him right here. Even some Democrats saying maybe we will support Charlie Crist.
ELLEITHEE: Yes, look, politics is a funny thing. Charlie Crist was with Obama, giving him a hug. Then he was doing everything he could to distance himself when he was still fighting for the Republican nomination. Once he abandoned that, you know, he is back with him again. It is completely appropriate for these two guys to be walking on the beach together, he is governor of Florida, the fourth largest state a state severely impacted by. I'm glad they are walking together and not throwing bombs.
TRAYNHAM: Look like they are walking on their honeymoon together. I think is great. As Mo said from a bipartisan standpoint this is a good image for the American people to see, but secondly, more importantly, he is the governor of Florida does have millions of people affected by. This is a good thing. Need to see more of that.
KING: Thanks for coming in.
When we come back, beats on the street.
KING: Congress tomorrow gets to question the BP CEO Tony Hayward. I f you got a chance, what would you ask? Here is Pete Dominick.
PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: That is right, John King. Tomorrow, the face of BP, Tony Hayward, takes the hot seat and hopefully will face tough questions from Congress. I went out and asked people what tough question they would ask him if they had the opportunity. Let's go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Hayward, you should be ashamed of yourself. You're despicable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you covering up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why isn't he doing a better job?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Hayward, the only thing I want to know, are you going to back off on this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much did you pay off MMS to falsify the reports to begin with?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are we going to get more oil from?
DOMINICK: What would you ask the head of BP, if you got to ask him a question what would you do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clean it up. Clean it up. Clean it up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How come you didn't plan for an accident like occurred?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you sleep at night?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is this taking so long?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why haven't you spent the money that you need to spend to clean up the gulf?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pay up.
DOMINICK: Pay up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do your job.
DOMINICK: Do your job. Thank you, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you going to handle the problems that arise 5, 10, 15 years from now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every dime that you got stop putting it on the administration. You step up to the plate and make it happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do you put money in front of health? Why did you do all this and what is your problem?
DOMINICK: There you go John King. Those are some tough questions. I know I wouldn't want to answer those. Hopefully he will face just as difficult questions tomorrow in front of Congress.
KING: We'll have that testimony for you tomorrow night. That's all for us for now. Campbell Brown starts right now.