"This is literally a war we're in," Democratic strategist James Carville told "Good Morning America" today. "There are foreign substances invading our coastline."
BP's latest plan after the failure of its much-touted "Top Kill" solution would send undersea robots to lop off the crippled pipeline. The company would then lower a small dome -- the third they've tried -- to siphon the oil.
But White House officials say this potential solution could release up to 20 percent more oil than is already gushing into the gulf if it fails. The only real fix -- two relief wells -- won't be completed until August.
Last week, Carville called President Obama's response to what is poised to become the country's biggest environmental disaster on record "lackadaisical."
Today he said Obama was doing "better," but said it's clear BP has lost control of the situation.
"I do know, for too long, they were taking BP's word for everything which turned out to be wrong at every junction," Carville said. "It's all turned out on the wrong side."
He said Obama needs to tell Americans exactly what is happening with relief efforts and why the gulf region is so important to the country's economy and environment.
"I think the president has to address the nation," Carville said. "His legacy depends on what happens with the oil in the Gulf of Mexico."
But Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told "Good Morning America" that the government doesn't have any more tactics in its arsenal than the oil industry.
"The real challenge from my perspective have been the technology aspect of this," he said. "The best technology in the world with respect to that exists in the oil industry."
The military has activated 1,400 guardsmen to the gulf region, Mullen said, and provided "tens of thousands of feet" of boom to help corral the floating gunk.
"We actually have been involved, but we have not been the lead," he said. "Any change with respect to the lead would be a decision the president would have to make."
Oil Spill Devastates Tourism Industry in Gulf, Florida
ABC News learned that federally backed scientists who are hunting oil plumes made a grim discovery -- that the biggest plumes yet, located some 3,500 feet under the surface, are comprised of a concentration of oil that was literally off the charts. Some are as long as 22 miles.
On Sunday, BP's CEO Tony Hayward denied that such plumes exist.
"The oil is on the surface. It's very difficult for oil to stay in a column," he said. "It wants to go to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity."
While oil has made it to shore in some places along the gulf coastline, fears about contamination have devastated the tourism industry all along the gulf and Florida coastlines on what would typically be a hopping holiday weekend.
Some resorts in the gulf have reported reservations dropping by about half. And four in 10 travelers say the oil spill would influence their decision to visit the area.
"People are convinced there is a black blanket coming across the Florida Keys that has smothered every fish here," said charter boat captain Mike Weinhofer.
Though the oil hasn't come close to places like Key West, tourists are still nervous about the water. Some hotels have even made guarantees to patrons that if tar balls wash up on the beach, their money will be refunded.