Obama Talks Tough as Oil Keeps Gushing

President Obama raised his rhetoric on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Tuesday morning, telling the Today show that if it were his decision, he would have fired BP CEO Tony Hayward by this point. Obama also disparaged "talking heads" and threw in some schoolyard language: "I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers--so I know whose ass to kick," he said.
What people really want to hear, though, is what Obama can't tell them: that the oil leak has finally stopped. Instead, 50 days later, BP still hasn’t stemmed the flow, and experts are debating just how bad the disaster will be. NEWSWEEK’s Howard Fineman notes that Americans are increasingly viewing the spill as worse than Hurricane Katrina.  

One researcher tells The New York Times Tuesday that the company's latest containment effort (a cap lowered over a gushing pipe) may have even made matters worse:  “The well pipe clearly is fluxing way more than it did before,” said Ira Leifer, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “By way more, I don’t mean 20 percent, I mean multiple factors.” Video of the cap shows oil gushing around the cap, but no one appears to know just how much.  
BP says it has a tanker ship at the surface that can collect up to 15,000 barrels of oil per day and is operating near that capacity. Additional hoses to collect more oil could be in place by mid-June.
Meanwhile, the disaster doesn’t seem to be putting an end to oil drilling in the short term. Responding, according to The Wall Street Journal, in large part to a clamor for jobs that may have been lost during the Obama administration's drilling moratorium, the federal Mineral Management Service is pushing through new rules that would allow shallow water drilling. That’s the same MMS that was in charge of overseeing the Deepwater Horizon rig. "Administration officials say new rules for shallow water oil and gas drilling could be released as soon as Tuesday," the Journal reported.
The newspaper notes that Obama got an earful about the need for such jobs when he visited the Gulf region last week. When you’re president, you take heat from all sides.

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