Obama Says He Would Fire BP CEO, Wants to Know 'Whose Ass to Kick'

President defended crisis handling, said he wanted to know "whose ass to kick."

ByABC News via logo
June 6, 2010, 11:48 AM

June 8, 2010— -- Fifty days after a Gulf rig explosion sparked the largest oil spill in U.S. history, a frustrated President Obama said he would have fired BP CEO Tony Hayward by now.

In light of Hayward's comments that the environmental impact would be "modest" and he wanted his "life back," the president told NBC News that Hayward "wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements."

In the interview that aired today, Obama defended his decision not to speak with Hayward.

"I have not spoken to him directly," Obama said. "Here's the reason. Because my experience is, when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's going to say all the right things to me. I'm not interested in words. I'm interested in actions."

Obama also leveled his anger at those who criticized the way he has handled the crisis, saying he was there long before "most of these talking heads were even paying attention.

"I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar," he said. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

Such forceful language was broadcast a day after an ABC News-Washington Post poll found that more Americans rated the government's response as negative than they did for the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

One of Obama's most vocal critics was also one of the most unexpected, Democratic political consultant James Carville.

"It just looks like he's not involved in this," an angry Carville said on "Good Morning America" last month. "Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving. We're about to die down here."