Obama White House Defends Itself Against James Carville's Oil Spill Criticism

The White House defended itself against James Carville's scathing criticism of the federal response to the BP oil spill Friday.

During an Air Force One flight after the President's visit to Louisiana, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that Carville, a Democratic strategist, didn't have his facts straight. A pool report included a transcript of Gibbs' remarks:

Reporter: What does the President have to say about the fact that some of his staunchest supporters like James Carville have essentially turned on him, have some strong things to say about the way he's been handling the oil spill?

Gibbs: Truthfully, I think the President answered this yesterday. I think people -- I don't think James understands all of what we're doing. I don't think James understood the facts.

On Thursday, Carville continued to criticize the federal response and told Campbell Brown that he believes President Obama's advisers aren't relaying to the President the gravity of the disaster.

"I know I'm not a Harvard law... guy, professor of law at the University of Chicago," Carville said. "People down here know what they're seeing. It seems the President is madder at his critics than he is at BP."

Carville wanted to know why the Minerals Management Service, the agency in charge of doling out offshore leases and regulating the industry, was not better managed before the spill.

Carville: "I really do take real issue here and I'd like to know from the Secretary of the Interior (Ken Salazar) what was going on, because we knew this was a corrupt thing," said Carville. Referring to an Inspector General's report suggesting a corrupt relationship between MMS employees and the oil industry, Carville described the findings as "One of the most devastating things ever. Why this place wasn't fumigated, cleaned out? I don't know."

On Thursday, MMS Director Elizabeth Birnbaum was forced to step down and scientists concluded that the spill was the worst in U.S. history.

Because of the disaster, the Obama administration has announced plans to separate the regulatory and business roles of the MMS.