March 8, 2006 — -- Faith Hill and Tim McGraw -- two stars who usually stay out of politics -- blasted the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort, with Hill calling the slow progress in Louisiana and Mississippi "embarrassing" and "humiliating."
The country music artists -- who are natives of the storm-ravaged states -- were at times close to tears, and clearly angry when the subject of Katrina came up during a news conference today. They had met with reporters in Nashville to promote their upcoming Soul2Soul II Tour, but when asked about the hurricane cleanup, the stars pulled no punches.
"To me, there's a lot of politics being played and a lot of people trying to put people in bad positions in order to further their agendas," McGraw, a 38-year-old native of Delhi, La., said after ABC News Radio's Dan Gordon asked about Katrina.
"When you have people dying because they're poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are -- if that's a number on a political scale -- then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that's great about our country."
McGraw specifically criticized President Bush. "There's no reason why someone can't go down there who's supposed to be the leader of the free world … and say, 'I'm giving you a job to do and I'm not leaving here until it's done. And you're held accountable, and you're held accountable, and you're held accountable.
"'This is what I've given you to do, and if it's not done by the time I get back on my plane, then you're fired and someone else will be in your place. '"
The president had actually spent the day in New Orleans, getting a close-up look at boarded-up buildings and mountains of debris, noting that the city still suffers "pain and agony."
Along the president's route, some frustrated residents held up signs in protest, one asking "Where's my government?" and another telling the president to "cut the red tape and help us."
Hill, who grew up in Jackson, Miss., echoed those sentiments. So overwhelmed, she uncharacteristically unleashed an epithet, calling the situation, "Bull- - - -"
"It is a huge, huge problem and it's embarrassing," she said.
"I fear for our country if we can't handle our people [during] a natural disaster. And I can't stand to see it. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out point A to point B. . . . And they can't even skip from point A to point B.
"It's just screwed up."
Earlier in the day, McGraw and Hill had reason to celebrate. Their duet, "Like We Never Loved At All," was nominated by the Country Music Association as the Vocal Event of the Year.
The couple rarely voice political opinions, though they've been active in raising money for Katrina victims.
McGraw is a member of the American Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet, and in the days after the hurricane, he and Hill joined a mission to take supplies to Gulfport, Miss. At the Sept. 2 "Concert for Hurricane Relief," he appealed to fans to reach out with donations.
But under most circumstances, McGraw relies on easy charm when dealing with the media. In 2004, he actually told Time magazine, however lightheartedly, that he was thinking of going into politics. "I want to run for the Senate from Tennessee … Not now, but when I'm 50, when the music dies down."
"Wouldn't Faith make a great senator's wife?" he joked.
Then again, maybe he wasn't joking.
Reported by ABC News Radio's Dan Gordon in Nashville, and written by ABCNEWS.com's Buck Wolf in New York.