'This Week' Transcript: Allen, Kerry and Cornyn
Jake Tapper Interviews Adm. Thad Allen and Sens. John Kerry and John Cornyn
June 6, 2010
TAPPER: Good morning. For the first time, we've been told the flow of oil gushing from the well has slowed thanks to that containment dome. Yet on the surface, oil is now washing ashore in four Gulf states, including Florida, as more than 20,000 workers scramble to keep pace with the spreading slick.
Joining me this morning, the man leading the massive federal response, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. Admiral, thanks for joining us.
ALLEN: Good morning, Jake.
TAPPER: So what's the latest on the containment dome? How much oil is it containing?
ALLEN: In the last 24 hours from midnight last night to midnight this last night, they collected just about 10,000 barrels.
TAPPER: OK, and the CEO of BP, Anthony Hayward, has said he anticipates it will be able to contain the majority of the oil. Do you agree?
ALLEN: That's correct if it's operating properly. What they're trying to do is take the pressure in the wellbore and actually produce oil -- take the pressure off and to evacuate the oil. We're not going to know how much oil is coming out until we're able to optimize the production, and that's what they're doing right now. They are slowly raising production. It was 6,000 a day before and it was 10,000 yesterday.
TAPPER: We heard a lot of talk about in 1993, the Saudis had an oil spill and they used these huge tankers to vacuum up the oil. How come that isn't being done with this spill?
ALLEN: We actually talked to those folks. There are a couple of issues with that. Number one, the tankers actually have to be modified. They're not ready to go right now. Number two, we don't know what those modifications will do to the stability of the vessels and how they operate. Number there, the area of operation is very, very different. We've got anywhere from 20 to 30 vessels within a one square mile over the top of that well at any particular time, managing remotely operated vehicles, doing the drilling the relief wells and so forth, so it's not -- I'm not sure it's the right application for that technology.
TAPPER: I just got back from Grand Isle, Louisiana. When I was down there, I was told about the huge oil slick headed towards the coast. I was told it was four miles wide, 30 miles long, maybe four to 12 inches thick. What can you tell us about that?
ALLEN: Well, what we're trying to do is fight this thing offshore. And this is a war. It's an insidious war, because it's attacking, you know, four states one at a time, and it comes from different directions depending on the weather. Offshore skimmers are the way to handle it, because we can do in situ burning above the well. But once it gets close to shore, it's got to be mechanical skimming and getting it as far offshore as we can.
TAPPER: Is there a big oil slick that size coming--
ALLEN: There are a number of slicks. One of the problems with this entire spill is it's not a monolithic, huge spill. Depending on when the oil came to the surface and the wind and the current, it's disaggregated itself into hundreds, maybe thousands of smaller pieces of oil. So we're trying to fight it on a lot of different fronts.
TAPPER: What about these enormous underwater plumes we keep hearing about?
ALLEN: Well, there has been some reporting from some of the local university research vessels of higher-density clouds below the surface. I've done a lot of work with Jane Lubchenco on this, and NOAA has taken the lead. They dispatched research vessels to start taking samples of the percentage of hydrocarbons in the water column at various depths, and they're putting together a massive model of what the Gulf looks like, and that is in progress right now.
TAPPER: BP has constantly downplayed the severity of the leak. They've denied the existence of the underwater plumes, they've refused to release underwater video. They've downplayed the risks of various efforts to contain the leak. You in the federal government have relied and continue to rely on their information. In retrospect, have you been too trusting of BP?
ALLEN: I'm not sure it's a matter of trust, and I hear that word a lot. We have to work in parallel, in a cooperative manner to get this thing done, because they own the means of access.
TAPPER: But are they always honest with you?
ALLEN: When I ask them for something, I get it.
TAPPER: But including correct information?
TAPPER: OK. If you have all the resources you need, as you've said, why is there still massive amounts of oil coming onto the shore and coming into the marshes?
ALLEN: The reason is this spill is just aggregated over a 200-mile radius around the wellbore, where it's leaking right now, and it's not a monolithic spill. It is literally hundreds of thousands of smaller spills. And it could be anywhere from 20 to 100 yards to several miles in length, and we are conducting surveillance. What we're going to have to do is not only be prepared to deal with the oil onshore, we are going to have to push it out to 50 miles offshore and basically have skimming capability that runs from southern Louisiana to Port St. Jill, Florida, and we are in the process of putting those things in place right now. We can't wait for it to get close to shore. We've got to skim it further out.
TAPPER: But do you have all that you need in order to keep this oil from hitting the shore?
ALLEN: Well, what we're doing right now, we're bringing all the skimming equipment in the United States that is not being used for anything else and bring it to bear down there. And frankly, the further this gets disaggregated from west to east, it's going to create a continual demand so there will always be an unmet demand for skimming capability, in my view.
TAPPER: Lastly, I saw firsthand when I was down in Louisiana over the weekend, all the workers there, whether they work for the governor or for BP or for private contractors who work for BP, they've all been told not to talk to the press, not to talk to the public about their work. Shouldn't they be allowed to share with the public the work that they're doing?
ALLEN: I put out a written directive and I can provide it for the record that says the media will have uninhibited access anywhere we're doing operations, except for two things, if it's a security or safety problem. That is my policy. I'm the national incident commander.
TAPPER: Well, I can tell you firsthand people are not -- people are not following that.
ALLEN: You take (ph) the information and you tell me where it's at, and we'll get the word to them.
TAPPER: All right, Admiral Allen, thanks so much for joining us.
TAPPER: This week, President Obama used the gusher in the Gulf to push the Senate to move on a comprehensive energy bill which Democratic Senator John Kerry introduced earlier this year. He joins us from Concord, New Hampshire now. Also joining us this morning, Republican Senator John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which helps elect Republicans to the Senate.
Senator Cornyn is in Austin, Texas this morning. Senator Kerry, Senator Cornyn, thanks for joining us.
KERRY: Thank you. Glad to be with you.
TAPPER: Senator Kerry, starting with you. Do you think the Obama administration has been too cozy or too trusting with BP?
KERRY: No, I think they are holding BP's feet to the fire, but obviously this has been, as you just heard Admiral Allen say, it's continued to dissipate, it continues to provide challenges. I think they've got an extraordinary number of workers, 17,500 National Guard, over 20,000 workers, almost 2,000 vessels. It's growing. They are growing to meet the demand. And I am convinced you're going to see the Congress of the United States and the administration together hold BP and the drilling process accountable.
TAPPER: Senator Cornyn, how would you rate BP's response? Should its CEO, Tony Hayward, stay or should he go?
CORNYN: Well, BP's response has been lousy. They are the ones that started this problem, and unfortunately, Jake, here we are 48 days into it, and I'm glad to hear Admiral Allen saying we've accumulated the human and physical assets we need to deal with this problem, but it sure has taken a long time. And I think a lot of the confusion has been because no one has really known who's in charge. Is it the president of the United States? Is it the CEO of British Petroleum? Who is it? Is it Admiral Allen? So I think really, we need the president to step up and assert himself and to say, let's cut through the red tape, let's cut through the chain of command, and let's get the assets where they need to be in order to protect the beaches and the people of that important region.
TAPPER: Senator Kerry, you were smiling during that. You want to respond?
KERRY: Well, it's sort of fashionable (inaudible) right now to try to blame the Obama administration for this disaster, which occurred because of a drilling problem that occurred with BP and Transoceanic (sic) and so forth. From day one, from the first moment, from within hours of this happening, President Obama was notified. The next day, he held the principals meeting in the White House. He's been down there three times. Every major person in the administration has been there. You have the best minds in the country being brought to bear on this. But everybody understands, the government of the United States doesn't do the drilling. The government of the United States doesn't have the technology. They have been racing to try to make up for BP's mistakes and for the absence here of a sufficient level of emergency.
Frankly, we had eight years, as many of us remember, of secret oil industry meetings where they wrote the oil laws, where there was an incestuous relationship with the MMS, and everybody understands this relationship has to change.
I think it is changing now.
Here's what's important. Not to be throwing the blame around, but to put America on the course to true energy independence and self-reliance and to begin to wean ourselves from our addiction to oil. And the Congress has staring it in the face an opportunity to catch up to the rest of the world. China, India, Germany, Japan, other countries are using American discovered technologies in solar and wind, and they're rushing them to the marketplace. The United States is losing a major economic transformational moment. Until we begin to do something -- you know, since 9/11, we now actually import more oil than we did before 9/11. It's insulting to common sense.
And what we need to do is pass an energy comprehensive policy that prices carbon and begins to move America to the future so we can get into the marketplace. We'll have less pollution, better health, better national security, better competitiveness, increased ability to provide our own national energy policy, and we will create millions of jobs.
TAPPER: Senator Cornyn, your response? Senator Kerry obviously advocating for his energy bill.
CORNYN: Well, there are parts of the bill that Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman have introduced that I think are positive steps. The acknowledgment that we can't completely cut off ourselves from domestic sources of oil and gas. That we need to explore nuclear power. That's certainly an important part of the overall picture.
But where I disagree with them is that we need to tax the American consumer and the American business at a time when -- with an energy tax -- a new energy tax, when unemployment is at 10 percent.
You know, if we do that then we're going to kill a lot of jobs that currently exist. And together with the moratorium that is of uncertain duration, particularly in the Gulf states, Governor Jindal and others have expressed their concern, I share that concern, that a lot of people who make their livelihood in the oil and gas industry are going to be out of work.
So we need to be very careful here. I think rather than try to hit a grand slam home run, I'd like to work with Senator Kerry and others to try to do -- you know, hit some singles and develop nuclear power, battery technology that will help us deal with our environmental concerns. And then let's look to divert more of our demand to natural gas, which we have in plentiful supply. It's American, and it's much less of an emissions problem than other forms of energy.
TAPPER: Senator Kerry, I want to let you respond to the...
KERRY: Well, you know, Jake, if I...
TAPPER: Go ahead.
KERRY: Yes. Well, if I can just say quickly, look, I'm delighted to hear John say he'd like to work with us. And obviously I've been working with Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, we want to reach across the aisle and we want to reach accommodation.
But let me tell you, you know, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and Babe Ruth never stepped up to bat in the World Series and said, I want to try to hit a single. The fact is, the United States right now is behind in an enormous challenge globally where China, India, and others are spending billions of dollars to take the discoveries that we made, and they're taking them to the marketplace.
The fact is, we're in a race against the science. The science tells us we need to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and there are many, many -- every major study that has been done by a legitimate group, most recently the Peterson Institute of Economics, shows that there are hundreds of thousands of jobs to be created if you pass our legislation, and if you wind up pricing carbon.
Now there is no tax in our bill. Unfortunately, there are some folks who call anything and everything that's dreamed up in Washington a tax. There is no tax. What we do is have a system where those who are polluters in a country have a requirement to reduce their pollution.
And in doing so, we create any numbers of jobs by moving to natural gas, to nuclear, to alternative and renewable energy, to energy efficiency, to conversions of vehicles to natural gas, to retrofitting homes and reducing our energy use.
There are countless ways in which we can put America work with jobs that stay in America. And every one of those studies says this will not raise the cost of energy for most Americans. And it will in fact protect the consumers even as we create those jobs.
TAPPER: All right. I want to move on. We have a lot to talk about today. I want to move on to the situation in the Middle East right now, if I could.
Senator Cornyn, if I could start with you, although the details are still murky, it has become clear that Israel killed a U.S. citizen in international waters with this flotilla incident. What should the U.S. response be when an ally kills a U.S. citizen?
CORNYN: Well, like you said, Jake, we don't know all of the circumstances yet. But it appears to be a premeditated provocation of Israel, and to attempt to run the blockade that has existed since Hamas took over the -- took over Gaza.
Hamas, of course, is a -- was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by Bill Clinton in 1995...
TAPPER: They took over Gaza...
TAPPER: They took over Gaza through elections, I mean, we should point out. Elections pushed by the Bush administration.
CORNYN: Well, they are a terrorist organization, no matter how they came to power. And so you can understand why an organization committed to the elimination of Israel, our only reliable ally in the Middle East, is a matter of some concern to them.
And they are entitled, as a matter of their self-defense, to look to see whether weapons or other items were being smuggled in. Egypt has the same sort of blockade, although there are numerous tunnels going beneath the border there between Egypt and Gaza.
So this was pretty clearly a premeditated provocation, and it's unfortunate that lives were lost. I think, you know, it should have been a situation like it had been before. If the people organizing this flotilla had been committed to a peaceful activity as opposed to provocation, this would not have occurred and Israel would have been able to examine the contents of the flotilla and they would have been delivered to the people in Gaza who needed help.
TAPPER: Senator Kerry, General David Petraeus recently said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in CENTCOM's area of operations and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world."
And the head of the Mossad, Israeli intelligence, Meir Dagan, said this week, quote, "Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden."
Do you believe the state of Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States?
KERRY: No, I don't believe that. But there are obviously tensions with respect to certain policies. We've seen that.
But let's begin at the very beginning of a big picture here. Israel has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza.
And Israel has every right in the world, as recognized by the international community -- because it is not just Israel conducting this blockade; it is Israel and Egypt. So you begin that Israel has this right to protect itself.
Now, that said, Gaza is a -- is a humanitarian challenge, and Israel understands that, I think. And this has underscored it.
TAPPER: But, why...
TAPPER: If I could just interject for one second, Senator, if I could, you were there; you were in Gaza in 2009. You found that they could not even bring pasta into Gaza. It was on a list of prohibited items. You went to the Israelis and you said, what gives? They -- I think they bent on that and allowed pasta in.
What is the situation in Gaza that the Israelis won't even let pasta in?
KERRY: There are still items -- there's confusion in the process. And I've talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu. I've talked to Defense Minister Ehud Barak about this. I believe that Israel is working now to try to put together -- and we need to work with them to make this happen. We need to guarantee that the supplies for building can go in to Gaza for reconstruction but that they are not going to be able to be used by Hamas either to build rockets or bunkers or to augment Hamas's position in Gaza.
So I think there is a way to do this. I think that what we need to do in the days ahead is put out a list of the things that cannot go in and have a clarity for those groups trying to get things in as to what can go in, and get back to the movement and access cooperation that existed previously, where we really have a better flow of goods.
Let me just tell you, it is in Israel's interest in its security and national defense interest, to deal more effectively with the Gaza situation.
Right now, you have Hamas building a seaside resort using goods that are smuggled through the Rafah tunnels, while the United Nations entity in Gaza has 40,000 kids on a waiting list to go to school, and they're trying to build 15 schools this year.
That is not in Israel's interest, in our judgment. And so I believe we need to work with Israel diligently in these next few days and get those goods moving.
But we also need to remember that -- that Iran is trying to foment a next intifada. There's nothing they'd like more than to create a violent explosion. And the tension is real enough that there is the threat of war in the Middle East. We need to work extra-hard in these next days to bring the parties together and to try to move the proximity talks to final status discussions as fast as possible.
Nothing would do more to address the concerns expressed by General Petraeus, to build trust and to diminish the ability of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and others to cause mischief than to get to the final status issues as fast as possible.
TAPPER: We only have a few more minutes. I want to switch to politics if I could.
Senator Cornyn, two weeks ago, you said about Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal that he damaged his reputation by misrepresenting his war record, falsely claiming that he'd been in Vietnam during the Vietnam era.
You said, "the public is looking for candidate and office holders that they can trust and that have integrity."
Illinois Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk this week admitted he'd misrepresented his war record. He claimed he was personally awarded a medal he did not win. There are other matters like that. Do you have a different standard for Republicans who misrepresent their war records?
CORNYN: No, Jake, and Mark Kirk made clear that his company or his organization got that medal and not him personally, and he apologized for any misunderstanding.
I think the problem with Mr. Blumenthal was that when he misrepresented his service in Vietnam, he had a press conference shortly thereafter and said that he had misspoken. You know, that's like shooting yourself in one foot and reloading and shooting yourself in the other foot. I think, you know, people are human, they make mistakes. They ought to admit it, and hopefully people will forgive them and they can move on.
There are a lot of other very important issues in the Illinois race, and we do expect Mark Kirk to be the next United States senator from Illinois in the seat formerly held by Barack Obama.
TAPPER: Senator Kerry, last question. I assume you disapprove of what Mr. Kirk has done. What about Mr. Blumenthal? You are a decorated Vietnam War veteran. You served in Vietnam. Did that not offend you?
KERRY: Well, I think every veteran have their own personal feelings about it, and obviously it did not sit well with a lot of folks. But I think these candidates are dealing with it at the local level. I think that the electorate in both states will make their own judgments. And the only thing I would disagree with John Cornyn on is that I think Alexi Giannoulias will be the next senator from Illinois, but other than that, I agree with him.
TAPPER: But just very quickly, we only have less than a minute left. As a decorated Vietnam War veteran, what do you think? How do you feel when Mr. Blumenthal falsely claims to have been in Vietnam?
KERRY: Look, again, as I said, let the voters at the local level sort this out. I think all of us who served have witnessed over the last 30 or 40 years strange aftermaths surrounding Vietnam, as I think Rich Armitage said a couple of years ago when I was involved in the race for presidency, Vietnam seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. So we all have to sort of work our way through whatever it is that surfaces about it. But the voters in those states, you know, Dick Blumenthal has a long and distinguished record. He's been a terrific attorney general. I think the people in that state respect him. He stepped over a line. He's apologized for it, and it's time to move on.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Kerry, Senator Cornyn, thank you so much for coming with us -- coming onto our show today. We really appreciate it.
Our roundtable is next. George Will, Arianna Huffington, Liz Cheney and Markos Moulitsas provide their analysis of the week's news. And later, the Sunday Funnies.
TAPPER: Scenes from the perfect game that wasn't -- one of many topics we will tackle today on our roundtable with George Will, Liz Cheney from Keep America Safe, Markos Moulitsas from DailyKos and Arianna Huffington from The Huffington Post.
Guys, I'm going to start with the oil spill. We'll get to the baseball game in a second. Here is BP CEO Tony Hayward one week ago today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BRITISH PETROLEUM: There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I'd like my life back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I'd like my life back? Well, $50 million of advertising later, here is Tony Hayward today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYWARD: For those affected and your families, I am deeply sorry. The Gulf is home to thousands of BP employees, and we all feel the impact. We know it is our responsibility to keep you informed and do everything we can so this never happens again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: George, President Obama expressed some dismay about this ad campaign. What do you think?
GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: Well, BP has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders, and it's trying to preserver value when the value is leaking away as fast as the oil is leaking out of the bottom of the Gulf. This week, this crisis became a competitive display of emotions.
It was reliability reported from the White House Press Room by Mr. Gibbs that the presidential jaw clenched this week. Now, we live in a therapeutic society, and the president is supposed to be therapist in chief, but this is somewhat ridiculous.
We have a terrible technological problem, and getting the president feelings shared appropriately is not high on the list.
TAPPER: Liz, I'll get to the president's emotions in one second, but what do you think about this ad campaign, is it appropriate?
LIZ CHENEY, BOARD MEMBER, KEEP AMERICA SAFE: You know, I don't think so. I think that at a time when you've got the state of Louisiana waiting for money from BP to build berms, frankly, it doesn't accomplish what BP is trying to accomplish here, by preserving shareholder value -- which is a completely legitimate thing to do, as George points out.
You know, I think BP would be much better served if they had, for example, a daily briefing. If they had a daily briefing where they stood, they said here's what we've done today, here's what we're going to do tomorrow, here is the response that we've made, if they actually were responding here. But the notion that they're spending an awfully lot of money worrying about their own image when people are suffering, when livelihood is being lost, does exactly the opposite, and I think it's pretty hard to defend.
TAPPER: Markos, I want to ask you about the president's emotion. Here is one of President Obama's biggest supporters in the celebrity community, Spike Lee, on CNN on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: He's very calm, cool, collected. But one time go off, and if there's any one time to go off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And here's President Obama the next night on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people, but that's not the job I was hired to do. My job is to solve this problem, and ultimately this isn't about me and how angry I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You and I were talking about this. A few days ago, you would have dismissed this emotional criticism that he's not being demonstrative enough. But you're not so sure anymore.
MARKOS MOULITSAS, FOUNDER, DAILY KOS: Well to a certain degree. I mean I don't think there's any doubt that the polling is slipping for Obama. People are angry. I don't know if it's about him not showing an emotion. But I think people are really worried that BP, yet another corporation, is going to get away with pillaging and destroying a valued and beloved part of America.
I mean, we spent the last two years talking about -- listening to conservatives talk about how Obama is a communist because he wants too much regulation, and they've been talking about drill, baby, drill. And I think the people are realizing that maybe drill, baby, drill is not such a good idea.
Maybe they're realizing that regulation is OK in a situation where the government is protecting the American people from corporations like BP or banks on Wall Street.
TAPPER: Arianna, do you think the Obama administration has been too close to BP in this whole situation?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FOUNDER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, definitely at the beginning. They listened to BP, they bought what BP was saying, and it turned out it wasn't accurate. And BP consistently underestimated the severity of the problem, the progress that they were making, and even now we have -- on your show -- we have Admiral Allen saying that he trusts BP.
Well, I don't know why he continues to trust BP and why he continues to trust Tony Hayward. This is not just the first time that BP has been in trouble and caused trouble. After all, it has had over 700 egregious violations before this spill.
So this is really part of the problem of our whole regulatory system which was dismantled during the Bush-Cheney years, and Obama did not fast enough turn things around.
TAPPER: Well, that's --
WILL: Well, if the president --
CHENEY: You know, it's not actually true that it was dismantled, and there's a very interesting piece this morning in the New York Times about exactly what happened in terms of what exceptions were granted for this BP well and when they were granted which turns out to be during the Obama Administration.
But on the issue of the president's emotion, if the president were projecting cool, calm, collected competence, I think people would say that's great. The problem is this notion, this sort of sense that he's detached while he's not able to produce, while he's not able to response effectively on the ground.
You know, you had the people of Louisiana ask for these berms, and for three weeks there were meetings and seminars and discussions -- and yes, I'm going to use the word dithering here -- in Washington while the people of Louisiana waited and the oil got closer to the shore.
WILL: This is what the president has said, "The American people should know that from the moment this disaster began the federal government has been in charge of the response effort. Make no mistake, BP is operating at our direction."
Now, with regard to whether we should regulate, this is a regulated industry. The Minerals Management Service evidently didn't do a very good job. Now sooner or later we'll blame this on George W. Bush, but right now, it is a regulatory agency of the Obama Administration that seems to have failed.
WILL: At a moment when the federal government has taken over 1/6th of the economy in health care, it is saying we have a 1,000-page bill because we just know how to turn down the thermostat on the planet.
Lord knows what else they're doing to rationalize American society at a moment when the country is saying maybe the regulatory state isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
HUFFINGTON: George, the truth is that right now we have precisely the regulatory system that the Bush-Cheney Administration wanted -- full of loopholes, full of cronies and lobbysists filling the very agencies they're supposed to be overseeing --
WILL: So it's Bush's fault.
HUFFINGTON: -- the industry.
WILL: Just clear this up.
HUFFINGTON: It is absolutely 1000 percent Bush-Cheney's fault, plus the fact that the Obama Administration has not really done enough fast enough to change what's happening at the MMS agency, at all sorts of other agencies. Not just when it comes to the energy problems, when it comes to Wall Street, all over, we are seeing the complete success of the kind of regulatory system that Bush-Cheney wanted. And we're seeing this is the inevitable result of what they wanted.
CHENEY: You know, it's truly amazing. I mean I actually heard George Bush was responsible for the breakup of Tipper and Al Gore's marriage too. I mean it's incredible the extent to which people are now trying to shift blame. And frankly --
MOULITSAS: Did you fact check that?
TAPPER: We'll get that fact.
CHENEY: I heard it. I don't know. I think it was on "The Daily Kos." But at any rate, I think that, you know we got to look at what's happening going forward, and you've got to look at the facts. I mean, the left is going to try -- you guys --
HUFFINGTON: This has nothing to do with the left.
CHENEY: -- have for years been demonizing Bush and Cheney, and I'm sure you will continue to demonize them for years going forward, but we have got now a catastrophe on the Gulf Coast, a catastrophe that happened on this administration's watch which this administration is failing to clean up and be responsive and lead, frankly.
And it is a problem we're seeing with this president across the board. A president with no leadership experience.
HUFFINGTON: Right here, we have the poster child of Bush-Cheney crony capitalism. Halliburton involved in this, and we haven't said about that. They after all were responsible for cementing the well. Here's Halliburton, after it defrauded the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars --
CHENEY: Arianna, I don't know what planet you live on, but that's not --
HUFFINGTON: -- it's involved again. I'm living on this planet. You're living in a planet that is --
CHENEY: -- it's -- Arianna, what you're saying --
HUFFINGTON: -- continuing --
CHENEY: -- has no relationship to --
HUFFINGTON: It is completely --
CHENEY: No relationship to the effects --
HUFFINGTON: -- Halliburton was involved in this. How can you say it is not?
TAPPER: Well, Halliburton was cementing the pipe.
HUFFINGTON: How can you say Halliburton has no relationship?
CHENEY: Her assertion that Halliburton defrauded the U.S. government --
HUFFINGTON: It did. It did.
CHENEY: It was Bush-Cheney cronyism is the left talking point --
HUFFINGTON: It was -- hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraq.
CHENEY: Arianna, is absolutely not true. It is absolutely not true.
HUFFINGTON: OK, I'm so glad Politifact is going to be checking this. I'm so glad.
TAPPER: Markos, I just want to give you one more last chance to weigh in. You've been suspiciously quiet on this roundtable so far. When the American people see what's going on in the Gulf and they see that it's not being solved, and they hold the president in charge -- the current president.
MOULITSAS: I would say that that's absolutely true, and I think the reason that sort of, Obama is slipping I think like I said is that they're afraid that yet another corporation is going to take advantage of lax regulation, it's going to take advantage of a pro-business climate and basically get away with -- maybe not murder. This is not Katrina. -- But with the defiling and the destruction of the economies and the beauty and the coastline of multiple U.S. states.
And that's the fear, because they've seen it in Wall Street. They saw Wall Street get away with it, and now they're afraid that BP is going to get away with it. Because certain companies are too big to be held accountable, and that's the problem, that's what people fear.
I don't think they want a temper-tantrum from the president. They want accountability and right now, we haven't seen that yet.
CHENEY: But I think what people really fear frankly now economically, Markos, is that the president's moratorium on offshore drilling is going to compound the economic damage that's been done by this spill.
MOULITSAS: Actually, the latest polling --
CHENEY: If you look at the jobs numbers, 430,000 new jobs created last month. 400,000 of those we know were temporary Census jobs. Thirty thousand private sector jobs. It is in fact entirely likely that this moratorium on offshore drilling is going to completely wipe out those private sector jobs.
TAPPER: Let's turn to the economy as long as Liz has brought it up. The May jobs number report came out showing 431,000 jobs were created. Only 41,000 of them were in the private sector. The unemployment rate is 9.7 percent, and 46 percent of the unemployed have been jobless for 27 weeks or more. George, this is not good news.
WILL: It's terrible news. In May, the private sector essentially stopped producing jobs. It was one-fifth the job creation of April. The 41,000 created in the private sector is less than half as many jobs that have to be created in order to keep up with the natural growth of the labor force.
Now the question is why is this happening? One answer might be that we're seeing now the prospect of a jobless recovery because of what happened with the late New Deal when business threw up its hands and said there's too much uncertainty.
WILL: The Bush tax cuts are going to expire. Interest rates have to go up sooner or later. The House, just before going on recess, passed a so-called jobs bill with $80 billion more dollars of taxes in it. There may be climate change regulation. No one knows quite how Obama Care is going to effect the private sector. In pandemic uncertainty, capital goes on strike.
TAPPER: Arianna, I know you agree with your disappointment in the jobs report, but I'm guessing you disagree with the diagnosis.
HUFFINGTON: I actually agree that the Obama Administration has not done enough on jobs. There's no question about that; that they've basically focused too much on making things good for Wall Street and ignored Main Street, and now we're paying the price for that.
This is a structural problem. This is not a cyclical problem, as Larry Summers has been claiming it is. It has been the loss of manufacturing jobs for over 30 years now. We need to throw everything at the problem, including a payroll tax holiday, including creating jobs the way we did during the depression.
Because what is happening is really the assault on the middle class. We are looking at families that can not send their kids to college. We're looking at the long-term unemployment that you mentioned, the 99-ers who have been on unemployment benefits for 99 weeks who can have no possibility of extending them. So this is a real calamity.
TAPPER: All right, moving to another big item in the news this week, the raid on the flotilla. I want to show you two clips showing differing points of view of the flotilla attack. The first is an Al Jazeera newscast reporting the violence and deaths on board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The organizers on board after two people have been confirmed killed by the Israeli army have now asked all the passengers to go inside. They've raised the white flag. This after Israeli commandos defended upon the ship in international water....
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And the second video we're going to show right now is from the Israeli Defense Forces. It shows troops being attacked as they descend on the boat with highlights from the IDA. The Obama Administration has not condemned Israel; is one of the few Western countries in the world, if not the only one, that has not.
But you have criticized President Obama for using the word tragic to describe the incident. Why?
CHENEY: Well, the Obama Administration actually did sign on to a presidential statement at the U.N. Security Council which requires --
TAPPER: After watering it down.
CHENEY: -- Yes, but the language in there still condemned what happened, called for an investigation. This isn't complicated. Israel is under attack by Hamas, which uses Gaza as a platform from which to launch attacks against Israel.
They want to destroy the state of Israel and they are supported in that by the countries Iran, Syria, and now it looks like Turkey as well. This flotilla, had it really been committed to providing humanitarian relief to Gaza could have taken the Israeli government up on the offer to dock and take that relief in. They didn't do that.
It was clearly a propaganda ploy. Clearly you had members of Muslim Brotherhood on board. You had people who were armed, ready for the Israeli commandos to arrive. The United States has to stand with Israel. If the United States, in a choice between Israel and Hamas tries to stand above it -- which is what this president likes to do on every issue, sort of be detached and say on the one hand, you know as he said in his Cairo speech a year ago.
On the one hand you have the Holocaust. On the other hand, you've got Palestinians living under occupation. That kind of moral equivalence is very -- not only is it wrong, not only is it shameful, but it is dangerous for the United States of America not to be standing with Israel.
And when we don't stand with Israel in the face of this kind of an attack, by Iran, by Syria, by Turkey, we send a very clear message that those nations can in fact attack Israel with impunity, that they can in fact threaten to destroy Israel with impunity, and that the United States won't stand by its more important ally in the Middle East.
TAPPER: Markos, whether or not this was a propaganda push by the people on the flotilla, it worked.
MOULITSAS: Well, you know, first of all, the with us or against us approach which is what got us in a lot of the trouble that we are in today. I mean the fact is whether Israel had the right to do what it did or not, they handled it so poorly that they basically alienated much of the world. They alienated an important Arab ally in Turkey, and they put the United States in a really difficult position.
And if the goal was to enforce the embargo, the blockade, they failed because now each has to open up the border. So they handled it so clumsily and so incompetently, that they actually worked against their own interests. CHENEY: Markos, what you just said demonstrates exactly the problem that Israel faces. The government of Turkey supported the launching of this flotilla. The government --
MOULITSAS: The government of Turkey had military --
CHENEY: The government of Turkey has stood up and said Hamas is not Hamas is not a terrorist organization. The Turks themselves have aligned themselves with Iran and with Syria.
MOULITSAS: Turkey is a NATO ally.
CHENEY: And for you to be blaming -- that's right, and for you to be blaming Israel for that alienation tells you what Israel faces --
HUFFINGTON: The truth is that the long-term security interests of Israel, in the same way the long-term security interests of the United States depend on marginalizing more of the extremists and bringing more of the moderates on our side.
HUFFINGTON: And what Israel is doing now is completely counterproductive in terms of this very simply goal, because if we fail to bring more moderates in the Middle East to see the world the way we're seeing the world, and we push them more and more into the arms of extremists, we are never going to have peace or security
WILL: To the extent that that fiction we call the international community makes it impossible for Israel to conduct this kind of boycott, to prevent Hamas from being rearmed, two things happen. You hasten the coming of the next Middle Eastern war, because SCUDS are coming to Hezbollah from Syria in the north. Weapons will pour in to Gaza from which 6,000 rockets have been fired at Israel.
So Israel will have to take active defense and go in again to Gaze and into southern Lebanon. Furthermore, no Israeli Prime Minister is going to allow a two-state solution. If a Palestinian state based on the West Bank can not allow some kind of armed presence on its eastern border to prevent the influx of arms into the new Palestinian state.
Therefore, a two-state solution becomes impossible, and the next war becomes likely all because people are trying to undermine the legitimacy of Israel's self-defense.
HUFFINGTON: But what is happening in Gaza right now, Senator Kerry said earlier, when you asked him about. It's a real humanitarian disaster in violation of the Geneva Convention that forbids collective punishment. What is happening in Gaze is collective punishment.
And if you look at the list of things that are not allowed to go into Gaza, you understand why there is such a there.
TAPPER: But Senator Kerry did point out that it was -- some of the --
HUFFINGTON: That they had --
TAPPER: No, no, but that the Hamas government was responsible as well for the humanitarian crisis.
HUFFINGTON: Absolutely. The Hamas government is a terrorist organization. Nobody's saying anything contrary to that. The Hamas government is an organization that won an election, an election the Bush-Cheney and Condy Rice encouraged to happen.
TAPPER: That is what -- let me ask you about -- You were at the State Department in 2005-2006 when these elections were pushed forward and some were saying don't do it, they're not ready for it. Do you think that was a mistake in retrospect?
CHENEY: I do. I don't think they were ready for it. I don't think we should have pushed it. And I think that Senator Cornyn's point earlier though was a very important point, which is no matter how they came into power, they're a terrorist organization.
And if you look at the difference between life on the West Bank and life in Gaza, I think it puts the lie to this notion that somehow the Israelis are responsible for the conditions inside Gaza. Hamas is running Gaza, and essentially the position that you guys are taking says that Israel does not have the right --
MOULITSAS: Who said that?
CHENEY: -- to stop a flotilla.
MOULITSAS: Nobody said that.
CHENEY: To stop a flotilla from --
MOULITSAS: Nobody said that.
CHENEY: -- from -- well, but your criticism -- no, no --
MOULITSAS: I said they handled it in such a way that was so incompetently that it backfired on Israel.
CHENEY: Okay, did you --
MOULITSAS: Not that they didn't have a right to do so.
CHENEY: So you agree that they had a right to stop that flotilla?
MOULITSAS: There's ways to do it that weren't as aggressive and counterproductive. If they did it in the middle of the night, over the air. I mean there's ways to handle blockades in international settings.
CHENEY: Yes, but Markos --
MOULITSAS: You can -- boats can be stopped; to redirect --
CHENEY: This was not a peaceful -- this was a not a peaceful flotilla. You just had a flotilla yesterday that in fact was peaceful and that landed with no incident. So for you to second-guess and to sort of say there are ways they could have done this --
MOULITSAS: I don't understand how a flotilla is not peaceful when it doesn't have --
CHENEY: The people on board were armed and ready to meet the Israeli commandos --
TAPPER: I do want to move on to one subject, because we're really running out of time, and I would be remiss if I didn't get one of America's foremost baseball writers to weigh in on what happened Wednesday night, and I'm sorry about the awkward segue way, but Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game on Wednesday and yet, the record books are not going to record that he pitched a perfect game.
George, does this not show that A, we should have instant replay in baseball, and B, didn't Bud Selig mess up by not awarding him the game retroactively?
WILL: No, and no. By the way, if you award him the game retroactively, what do you do about the man who made the 28th out? Does the pitcher get credit for making that out or do you just pretend it never happened?
To all those who are hysterical about the outcome of this game and who are, I would note, more hysterical than the pitcher himself who took this in good grace, I say this: Would you rather have had a 21st perfect game since 1880 -- and the third in a month by the way.
Would you rather have had a 21st perfect game or this wonderful example of sportsmanship and maturity? The pitcher taking it in good grace. The umpire being a model of manly responsibility. The Detroit Tiger fans giving the umpire a standing ovation the next day, and Jim Leland, more old school baseball man there is not in the world -- Jim Leland manager of the Tigers sending the pitcher out with the lineup card to home plate to put his arm around and affect the umpire.
What would you rather have? The perfect is the enemy of the good. You strive for perfection in anything, in baseball, anything else, and you're going to destroy the rhythm of the game and the human element that we love in the game.
TAPPER: Markos, you are my condolences, a Cubs fan, but you are a baseball fan. Are you torn on this?
MOULITSAS: Torn, I mean, the heart says, Selig should have given the perfect game. I mean, I was -- on Mother's Day I was in Oakland, and I witnessed at the stadium that perfect game. And it's incredible. And I think he would probably take the perfect game over the sportsmanship.
But the head says that it would be a terrible slippery slope that would turn the commissioner's office into the supreme court of baseball, and what happens in a World Series game, game seven, a disputed call causes the game to be called a certain way, do you then appeal to the commissioner's office and try to change the result of the game? You cannot do that.
WILL: In the most important perfect game ever pitched, 1956, Don Larsen in the World Series. The 27th out was made by Dale Mitchell, wonderful batter's eye he had. He struck out 119 times in 4,000 Major League at-bats. The umpire, it was his last game, by the way, called the strike three on Dale Mitchell. It was a foot and half probably high and outside. He was so eager to get the game over.
Now suppose the commissioner is sitting in the stands. Is he supposed to say, oh, no, back to the mound, Mitchell, back to the plate, we didn't like that call?
TAPPER: All right, we're running out of time, so this roundtable discussion and also some conversation about politics will continue in the green room on abcnews.com, where later you can also find our fact checks. We've teamed up with Politifact to fact-check the newsmakers.