TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning and hello. Are you ready for some hastily typed words, attempting to consolidate a morning's worth of tired political tropes? No, I'm not either, but that is the job on this, as it is on every Sunday. Hi, I'm Jason and this is your Sunday Morning Liveblog of tangled political narrative in the middle of June in the middle of 2010 in the middle of our lives. Oh, today. You know we'll have oil, oil, oil. And more 2010 politicking. And someone will be terrified of TEH DEFICITZ at the same time most Americans want job-spurring stimulus money to be spent. And panels! Lots of panels.

What can you do about this? Nothing, as usual! But try anyway. Share a comment, with one another. Look out for each other! Be friends, on the internet. Turn on me, with a fury, if you like, by sending me an email. Or enjoy a mood stabilizer and follow me on Twitter.

We begin, where we typically begin, unless I feel like stealing an extra hour of sleep.


Okay, what's Chris Wallace brewing up? OIL. LEAK. OBAMA SPEECH. And Senator Mitch McConnell! And a panel discussion on Obama's socialism, I think? And also Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. So, this isn't exactly Netroots Nation up in here, surprisingly.

But, okay, Bob Gates. What's going on in Afghanistan, where we have a "delayed" campaign in Kandahar and an operation in Marja that has become a "bleeding ulcer." Isn't "bleeding ulcer" redundant? Honestly, I don't know. SOMEHOW I HAVE NOT GOTTEN ANY ULCERS BY NOW, and no one is more surprised by that than me.

Gates says that the "narrative is overly negative because it's incomplete." He says that the "bottom line" is that progress is being made, "somewhat slower than anticipated." We are, he says, suffering the "signifcant casualties" that were expected. (And COIN strategy, I'll remind you, is designed as a high-risk approach.)

But the challanges. Wallace runs some of the basics down: there's low-level graft among the host nation officials, recruits tend to go AWOL, and, probably most distressingly, given that one of our primary goals is to train up a police force, is widespread illiteracy. Does Gates think the Afghans will be ready to take over in a year? Gates' short answer is that they'll be ready in a limited way. The even shorter answer is no. But he says that retention rates are higher than expected and the partnered operations between U.S. troops and Afghan trainees are increasing.

What about withdrawal? Will a "whole lot of people" be moving out in July 2011, as Joe Biden said in a book? Gates says withdrawal will be conditions-based. Nothing has been decided. And hey, maybe we'll stay a little longer, because of all the ZOMGZ MINERALS in the ground, for iPads! And by "stay a little longer," I mean, "stay forever."

Hey, what can the Pentagon do about the Gulf Oil Spill? Gates says that they've done everything they can, including National Guard mobilization. But there's little oil-stopping technology on hand.

Will the U.N. sanctions work on Iran? Gates says that the Iranian regime has a smaller base, the mullahs are being set aside, Ahmadinejad has fewer supporters and the fake election still has Iran divided, and under those conditions, he is bullish on the economic sanctions. Can a nuclear Iran be contained? "I don't think we're prepared to talk about a nuclear Iran." Would a strike from the U.S. or Israel come in handy? Gates says, "all options remain on the table," but no, not right now.

ON DADT, Gates wants the review to happen, but places the inevitability of repeal in the hands of Congress. He says that Obama would veto a bill if it contains funding for the C17 or the JSF alternative engine. He says that the Pentagon will have to do "stupid things" if Congress fails to pass a war supplemental by July 4. And he basically demurs on answering the age old question: "How long will you stay in this job?" Probably a while yet! Don't worry, Michelle Flournoy, your time will come, someday.

Oil spill time! Now we'll talk about it with Mitch "Junk Shot" McConnell. What does he think about the way his party is all snuggled up with the oil industry, french kissing it, in the closet, for seven minutes at Timmy's party? His parents aren't home and Joe Barton is buying some Peach Schapps to bring over and sip on while BP lets him go over-the-shirt. McConnell says that he disagrees with Barton that BP needs an apology and that BP needs to cover all the costs of everything. Anyway, Obama took money from BP, too, and he's in charge of developing a plan for developing oil spills. HE'S SO MAD ABOUT THE SKIMMERS, TOO.

Meanwhile, Tony Hayward is yachting and Obama is golfing. McConnell says that we need to get the leak stopped, so we will jump in the water and summon the Turtle People from Atlantis to clog the hole, while Obama expands the gub'mint, dang it. Where is the magic oil leak stopper from Bahrain, Mitch wants to know?

And as far as a sweeping change to our energy policy goes? McConnell isn't having any of it. He hates him some cap and trade and despite what everyone says, he'll try to seize on this crisis to pass it. Man, I wish! But carbon pricing is basically off the table. But McConnell thinks it's on, for some reason, probably because his job is just to demogogue like the dickens.

We've jumped to border security, now. And McConnell is frustrated! So frustrated! Why can't they secure the border, with no money? Arizona had to pass their round-up-the-browns law in response.

Also: Elena Kagan. Will she be filibustered? McConnell says that some of her views are "troubling" to him, which really, is the best news I've heard all day about Kagan. But look, she's not getting filibustered, McConnell just has to pretend it's "on the table" to satisfy the Crazies.

How does McConnell feel about joining in the bipartisan effort in Congress, where both parties reflect on their own sorry history of fracking up the world to the point that unemployment is now off the charts, and with a song in their heart, re-punish the nation's unemployed, because they can? McConnell feels great about that! Also, he feels really good about all the nutlog fringe candidates who are winning the GOP nomination for offices, all over the place.

I need to get some coffee.

And now, it's panel time, with the Four Vuvuzelas Of The Apocalypse, Bill Kristol, Mara Liasson, Liz Cheney, and Juan Williams.

Everyone in the GOP hates Joe Barton! I mean, sure, they all want to basically want to get boned by the oil industry in the worst way, but to watch Barton go into a hearing all lubed up and willing to suck down a Jagermeister-Rohypnol-Ecstacy cocktail right there in front of America and go nuts, taking off his pants and scampering about the room for Tony Hayward to drill some "relief wells" on C-SPAN was really quite terrible. They prefer to operate in a more "EYES WIDE SHUT" sense of decorum. You know: basement of the C Street House, bring your own Crisco and rosary beads, let's get down to some favorable legislation, oil companies! But Barton made them all look so terrible!

But this is Fox News Sunday, so it must be asked: DOES BARTON HAVE A POINT? After all, isn't that $20 billion escrow account just more evidence that Barack Obama really wants to run an oil company? Mind you, this is an oil company that set the standard for being a terrible oil company, even before the big Earth-extincting oil spill they created.

Bill Kristol says Obama is bullying big business! Though he allows that "BP should stand for beyond pathetic." So: lamely insult big business when they nearly destroy the world, but don't put your boot on their neck. Liasson says that BP will restore their good will by going along with the plan.

But should the GOP have rallied around Barton? Cheney says, "I don't think so, I think he was wrong." She's pro-escrow and pro-Feinberg running the fund. Cheney needs a little help, though, from Wallace and Liasson, in grasping that Feinberg is running it independently of the White House, because she's a little bit dumb.

Juan Williams has to get into the terrible issue: is it right for Obama and Biden to golf while Hayward yachts and while the oil spills? "The Gucci-clad feet of Hayward" are involved somehow. Maybe those feet are working their way into and out of Joe Barton's orifices.

I think the hard time Barton and his colleagues are having with the $20 billion escrow that's been wrung from BP is that they don't recognize the policy. It's alien to them. If it were their show to run, they'd have done something like sold the Gulf's public schools to BP so that they'd have a new market to privatize if the oil thing didn't work out for them. The $20 billion dollars is the opposite of disaster capitalism. It's being called a shakedown by people who just have no experience with the central force that's driven it into existence: basic morality.

OMGZ the DEFICITZ! Stimulus is terrible, Cheney says. And people, she insists, are more concerned about debts than they are about jobs. And they are focused on Greece! And, hey, NONE OF THAT IS TRUE. People want the government to spend money on stimulating the economy. Bottom line. End of story!

Now, hey, the big sad downside to this, if you are the White House or the Democrats, is that repealing at least part of the healthcare reform package. Chances are, some of those people would like the bill to be replaced with a public option. But that's besides the point. The debts that Americans care about right now are household debts. They want to go back to work. There is no political cost to be paid by passing a stimulus package that will grow jobs. None, whatsoever.

And hey, look! People want MORE government regulation of major financial institutions as well!

"The small people understand this," says Kristol, who can only be talking about the imaginary gnomes that change his boxer briefs in the middle of the night, because actual Americans don't think that way at all. I'm sorry, but it's just the truth.

Now Liz Cheney and Juan Williams are yelling about the economy. It's not exactly Hayek versus Keynes. It's more like watching two four-year olds, tossing flashcards at each other that are tied to bricks.


Today, Washington's most widely known Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity, Rahm Emanuel, will be on hand to get semi-naked at the Newseum to Massa-menage the White House message, for America. SO GET OVERJOYED. Plus a panel discussion. And then the Sunday funnies which we don't recap because this liveblog is ALL ABOUT GRAVITAS.

So, how about ol' yachting Tony Hayward? "He's got his life back," quips Rahm, and adds that he won't have a "second career in P.R. consulting." BUT DO THE PEOPLE "DOWN THERE" HAVE THEIR LIVES BACK? Basically, a whole paragraph of bumperstickers.
But is Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity happy with BP's response? He says that the White House has "forced" BP to build a second relief well and expand the amount of oil they were capturing and put up $20 billion. Will the wells work? Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity's answer is that they made BP build a second well. (Which means the next question is: " are you actually building two things that may not work?")

But what about all the GUB'MINT BYOOROCKRASEE? Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity says, well, this is the worst disaster in forever and is being met with the most awesome response in the history of the solar system. There will be "problems and bottlenecks" and "mess ups" and the weather will change and Florida is a totally different place than Alabama but the government will be flexible and change things up when they run into "mess-ups." FIE ON YOU, MESS-UPS!

Jake shows the clip of Joe Barton giving Tony Hayward a deep-tissue tongue massage to the tag-end of his alimentary canal. Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity says that it's a "political gift for the Democrats," sure, but it's a "danger to the American people" because Barton's remarks are not just improvised chatter -- it's a "philosophy" that Barton and his colleagues hew to, with a velcro-like grip. "They see the aggrieved party as BP," Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity says, "Not the fisherman." And then he goes on to point out that Rand Paul is the same way. "These aren't political gaffes," says Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity.

Meanwhile, it would be nice if the White House would also see the aggrieved party of the 2008 financial meltdown as the American middle class, as well.

Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity says of the criticism that the White House wants to take over all businesses everywhere, that the Obama administration required conditions from the auto companies they assisted, rather than writing a blank check (Would they have done so if unemployment wasn't so terrible, and in need of less disruption? I don't know!) But Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity insists that GM will be "righted" by the actions taken.

Time to remind everyone, once again, that we're not undergoing some sort of Marxist revolution, here in America.

Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity goes on to say that energy policy will be formulated by all sorts of "equities" at the table, not just the petro-chemical industry. Okay, but that definitely makes the catering more complicated.

Will the energy bill contain a carbom pricing element? Well, the House passed something. And now there will be a meeting. And then the Senate will maybe pass something? And maybe some Republicans will contribute "ideas" before withholding their votes.

So, Afghanistan. Tapper quotes the same Biden line, which turns out to have been from Jonathan Alter's cash-money insidery WHite House gossip goulash, The Promise, which I'm guessing has no relation to the When In Rome song of the same name.

David Petraeus has said that the July 2011 is not a moment where everyone "heads for the exits." Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity says that it's a firm date...for...something. But things are going better, Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity insists. We are meeting our police recruitment goals. And half of al Qaeda in Afghanistan has been eliminated, he says, which sounds impressive until you realize that that's actually an easier goal than say, eliminating half of the players in the NFC Western Division.

"All of this was predictable," says Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity, which is news to me! WE CALLED THIS! O-kay!

Anyway: troop reduction = conditions on the ground - MINERAL FEVER! Probably.

What about Israel and Palestine? Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity says Netanyahu is the sort of PM who will "take big risks" to achieve peace.

OH AND YES THE JOBLESSNESS EVERYWHERE? What's going to happen to the unemployment benefits, and the TERRIBLE DEFICITS THEY CAUSE? Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity notes that BLAH THEY INHERITED A MESS. But they "broke the back of the recession," with sticks, but now they need a recovery full of carrots. SO GROW CARROTS. "What we don't have is a fact enough, strong enough, recovery." TOO MANY AMERICANS ARE DANCING ALONE TO PONY.

But we'll pass a comprehensive energy bill and FINREG and a small biz lending bill and a step will be taken to keep teachers at work. Also, long term fiscal seriousness, to bring down debts. But, Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity points out, "It's a matter of sequencing." From which I gather that the plan is you don't tackle the larger fiscal problem until you get the economy on track again.

Rahm doesn't seem to accept the notion that November's election results are essentially baked into reality right now. I admire his optimism, but I would dare say that there are plenty of people well worth listening to, non-dumbass variety, who would disagree with him. But, as he notes, Joe Barton gave the Dems some pretty good ad fodder this week. Maybe it will be enough to distract everyone from the widespread unemployment crisis.

[Oooh. I just realized I put up a badly cropped image of that Gallup poll! I'm very sorry about that, folks. Grabbed the wrong image code. It should be fixed now, if you want to scroll back up and look.]

I sort of don't know why Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity is bragging about having all sorts of underheard voices at the policymaking table as a feature of this administration, considering the fact that he's taken it upon himself to berate so many of those tablemates in the press, under condition of anonymity. I mean, we just got through a primary election where the White House gleefully slagged off labor, for kicks. Now it's all: SO MANY PEOPLE WILL BE CONTRIBUTING.

Anyway, Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity made a lot of money in the world of hedge funds, so it's not like there aren't people he would offer a Joe Bartonesque apology to, in prepared remarks, as a philosophy.

Has the White House undermined their own efforts to "change politics," with dealmaking? Senior White House Official Speaking On Condition Of Anonymity says that there's "nothing more that needs" to be talked about, where Andrew Romanoff and Joe Sestak are concerned.

And now, panel time, and I'm just not excited by the grouping today. George Will, Michelle Martin, Greta Van Scientology, and Richard Haaaazzsszs, whose last name I never get right, so I am not even going to bother.

So, the Joe Barton thing! George Will finds the escrow fund to be "uncomfortable" because BP's lawyers should have a chance to fight claims in court! And then, what happened to the $20 billion? It all went to BP's lawyers! And, lordy, this money was not "confiscated." BP was a willing party to this escrow being set up. This is not "Venezuela."

Martin disagrees, and is worried that the $20 billion is a "ceiling" for the liability. But let's recall that it's $20 billion for claimants which is aside from and not to the exclusion of the existing law governing the matter, which caps liability at $75 billion in compensation, which is itself in addition to the entire cost of clean up, and it's very possible that the caps on existing law will get monkeyed with in the coming weeks. All of which makes you wonder, well, why the escrow? Well, because maybe the White House has learned that the Congress is broken, and they needed to do something outside of their approval, before it was too late. The escrow doesn't require their sign off, and it's a good thing it doesn't, because we know from Barton how that was likely to go.

Though in fairness to Barton, it's safe to say that every oil-swilling Democrats from the region would have used the deepwater moratorium as a bargaining chip if the matter of compensation had been put to them. Some call the escrow a $20 billion stimulus that BP has to pay for and Congress cannot mess with, but I'll wait and see if it does anything like that, at all.

HAAAAASSS says that Obama's speech was "very thin on the policy side" and isn't convinced that they are going to seize the moment to do anything significant on the short-to-middle term to solve the problem -- he basically endorses the Pickens plan of ramping up natural gas production.

GVS thinks that Congress should point fingers at themselves and yell at the MMS, which is something that will probably happen in the days to come.

George Will is worried about BP's investors! Fiduciary responsibility is a morality that can also buy you a yacht!

HAAAAAAASSSZZSSSS is worried about the Afghanistan policy as well! He doesn't think COIN will work and isn't sure it's worth it and that we should be concentrating on Iran and North Korea. So, he says, the July 2011 drawdown should be the real deal. "It's an expensive investment and a strategic distraction," he says. BUT HAS HE HEARD ABOUT THE LEGEND OF CURLY'S MINERALS?

Will, to his credit, has read the counterinsurgency manual, and he doesn't like the way COIN requires a riskier set of rules of engagement (it does), and the way it smacks of "nation-building." Will says that COIN in Afghanistan essentially "extends the rule of Kabul" throughout Afghanistan and that Afghan's don't trust the Karzai government. The true COINistas, I believed, would say that the counterinsurgents themselves are actually trying to outcompete the Taliban insurgency on providing security and food and medicine and basic public services. But I don't think they'd mind a more stable, secure, trustworthy host nation government to work alongside, either.

Martin and Will also say that the drawdown should be real. GVS wants to know what the "goal" is.

Martin is suspicious of the New York Times' ZOMG MINERALS story. She's not the only one. John Cook sparred with James Risen last week, and man, it shook out all sorts of fascinating fallout.

Will says Martin's suspicions are well-founded. "The mission is lithium," he quips, noting how much the news is going to spur the Taliban and invite further corruption. "If it was a leak, it was a dumb leak," HAAAAAAAZZZSSZZ says, adding that the the lesson of Iraq is that you cannot reliably extract resources from a nation unless there's political stability to be had.

Meanwhile Jan "The Nazis Killed My Dad" Brewer is going to fight any lawsuit from the Federal government over Arizona's roundin' up the browns. GVS says racial profiling is bad, but the Arizona law won't racially profile. Which is weird! I guarantee that you can be illegally Swiss in Arizona without any fear whatsoever. Martin says, "Well, there's the law (which may be absent a call for racial profiling) and the way the law is interpreted." There's also how the law is APPLIED, and AGAIN, the thing I keep bringing up is that the law was expanded in its second draft to include suspected violations of local ordinances as a reason to make immigration contact.

Unemployment benefits! No one wants to pay for them, because GET A JOB, AMERICA. Don't borrow money from your unborn grandchildren when your current children could do the honorable thing and crawl off into the woods to starve to death.

Martin actually talked to an unemployed man who lost his COBRA benefits and asked him to weigh getting COBRA/unemployment benefits against long term debt, and the guy gave the politest possible answer, which was "I don't know." I think many people would answer, "WTF, lady? There isn't going to BE a ME for much longer if I starve to death or have to move my family out on the streets.

Anyway, the people have spoken!


So, I just checked up on all the World Cup results I missed this morning, and wow: New Zealand drew against Italy?! Wowzers. Nice job! Where my Kiwis at? (They are probably at home, refusing to read this until I name it the "Monday Morning Liveblog.") New Zealand can advance if they win their game against Paraguay, in a match that I will call "the Battle of Minas Tirith." Meanwhile, of the major European soccer powers, the only one that hasn't done a little bit of pants-crapping is the Netherlands. (Germany did not look good against Serbia. The last time Germany got so royally screwed by a Central European was that time Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.)

Oil-a-ganza on MEET THE PRESS with Ken Feinberg, Haley Barbour, Mary Landrieu, Ed Markey, Katty Kay, and a former Shell Oil CEO who's name sounds like John Hock-Monster. THIS WILL SOLVE ALL THE OIL PROBLEMS.

Tony Hayward is making people mad for yachting, which, to me, is just a cynical reminder of the fact that once you achieve a certain level of wealth, there will always be a place for you in polite society. Unless you steal their money, like Bernie Madoff did. Hayward, he's basically going to enjoy his life, and you and I will never touch him or cause him the least bit of pain. Get used to it, I'm afraid. Jarvis Cocker warned you about this.

Anyway, Anne Thompson who is NBC's chief something-something or other, says that people in the Gulf Coast are "frustrated." In case you hadn't heard. And they're not happy about having to go through BP and the federal government to do anything. And BP is basically gone shithouse now, sowing confusion in their chain of command, based upon the fact that Tony Hayward made some dickish comments several weeks ago about "wanting his life back." SO, TARFU! TARFU, baby. TARFU BALLS, washing up on the beaches. (Haley Barbour reminds you that this is normal, for his tar-strewn beaches of grim nastiness.

Barbour is here, by the by, and he says nothing is good until the oil is stopped, but contends that the federal government has done more right than wrong and that Ken Feinberg is the guy for the job. Landrieu says the White House was slow, but that his "cabinet was there from day one and the Coast Guard was there from day one." (Landrieu maybe needs a little help in understanding that the Coast Guard and the Cabinet do not just run around doing what they want.)

Gregory is skeptical of the oil flow rate, which, yes, he should be, but man has the media been soft on the flow rate estimates. Too often, they've just cited various numbers without doing much in the way of scrutiny.

Surprise, surprise, the guy from Shell isn't too impressed with his former competitors, as far as allowing the disaster in the first place. HOWEVER, the cap attempts have been the best they can possibly be (because to say otherwise would implicate other oil companies). ALSO: the cleanup has been terrible! "Where's the imagination? Where's the scale?" asks the dude from Shell, saying that one of the best things the oil industry does is "scale things." HIS IMAGINATION: GIANT BOATS WITH SUCTION CUPS! And refineries on the coasts, processing the oil. (He maybe hasn't heard that the oil sludge ruins refineries.)

David Gregory reads Eugene Robinson's latest column to Katty Kay, because this show devotes a lot of its time, reading things to people, like a highly idiosyncratic Kindle. Anyway, she says the President wants to stop the leak, but it's not in the realm of the possible, outside of the relief wells, apparently. And I sort of wanted the President to go in front of the American people this week and say, "Look, I got to level with you all. The best hope of stopping the oil is drilling a pair of relief wells. These will hopefully be done by August. We're still trying to cap it at the source, but you've seen how that's gone." I mean, there's a danger in admitting the extent of the problem, but it's not nearly as dangerous as not levelling with people.

Markey insists that there are no assets being left on the table, that all options are being brought to bear. He cites the looney prep sheets the oil companies have on hand, full of dead people's phone numbers, but I'm not sure that speaks to skimmers, except that maybe the skimmer solution isn't the slam dunk everyone thinks it is. Someone had better to an explainer on skimmer tankers, I guess.

Barbour says that local government's will help rebuild the coasts, and HOW DID WE JUMP AHEAD TO REBUILDING THE COASTS FROM AN INTRACTABLE LEAK THAT CAN'T BE STOPPED AT THE MOMENT? Landrieu says that this proves that corporations, left to their own devices, make some big mistakes. WELL, WELCOME TO THE WORLD THE REST OF US ARE LIVING IN, MARY. God, these people, sometimes!

And now, here's Ken Feinberg! America's go to guy for sorting out disaster claims.

David Gregory wants to know what's to become of that one shrimper he met that time he went to the Gulf and said, "Are there any shrimpers around here who are as worried about long term Federal deficits as I am?" Feinberg says that his plan is to get such people to file claims, so that they "get paid and get paid promptly."

"I must make sure that this fund pays people promptly," says Feinberg, who reasserts that he is not beholden to the administration or two BP.

Gregory asks, "But BP is paying your bills, right." Gregory has had a problem understanding this stuff from the very beginning. It confuses him that we can have a "relationship" with BP and continue to hold them responsible. It doesn't compute that we could employ BP's expertise or resources while simultaneously pointing out that they are responsible for wrecking everything. Naturally, I won't be the first person to point out that Gregory's inability to disconnect personal relationships from the need to occasionally hold people accountable is a factor that defines his brand of journalism, which is make everyone comfortable and hope for the best.

Feinberg says that Gregory's imaginary shrimper with a legit claim should come to him, get paid promptly, and not worry about being hung with future obligations to not sue.

What's a legit claim? Feinberg says that's to be decided on a case-by-case basis. Direct impacts are legit, period, end of story. Indirect claims, such as a restaurant business that's adversely affected, will be handled based upon state law and precedents established by similar programs.

Feinberg is about the only man in America who will listen to Barton's apology and respond with something that sound like pity. He says that this escrow is not a "shakedown" and credits BP for making the choice to set aside the money. "I don't think it helps to politicize this," Feinberg says, and goes on to credit Barbour and Jindal and Landrieu for giving him good counsel.

Feinberg is really, really doing everything he can to decouple this matter from politics. There's no trace of firebrand in the man. This is mission oriented talk. Joe Friday stuff. It's pretty clear that Feinberg knows that he's got to be seen as the fairest man in America to make this work. So, yeah, don't expect a lot of jumping up and down on people's heads. His game is develop methodologies quickly, streamline them, get people paid. He'd clearly rather that people start with this fund than go around filing lawsuits -- but he's made it clear on about three occasions now that accepting fund monies don't forbid future lawsuits.

Landrieu is happy that Feinberg's on the case, but the long-term costs of the befouled water are going to require some "collaboration." Barbour says that he was originally concerned that the $20 billion all at once, which would impact BP's capitalization. (Instead, it's $5 billion a year for the next four years. Hope that BP stays around that long!) So Barbour is on board with the escrow and with Feinberg. Markey is too. EVERYONE LOVES KEN FEINBERG TODAY. (You know this is true, because everyone is working really hard to not call him a "czar." Back when Feinberg was denying huge bonuses to the Wall Streeters who nearly destroyed the world, people couldn't stop calling him a czar!)

Kay says that politically speaking, the speech Obama gave was a wash, but the escrow was a significant step that should resonate with people. I exchanged a lot of puzzled looks with my colleagues, all of us wondering why Obama didn't just hold off on the speech until he had something really exciting and concrete to talk about. The escrow solution had been in the works, after all.

But whatever, voters really don't give a crap about speeches, anyway. Life isn't LAW AND ORDER, where crappy cases get won on the basis of a great closing argument.

Barbour makes a pledge to not "pile on" politically where the oil spill is concerned. Gregory notes that Emanuel's has already promised to make Joe Barton an election issue. Barbour says, "I can understand that." JUST VISIT HIS TAR STREWN BEACHES, SOMEBODY. ANYBODY!

We're back from commercial, and Gregory is going to try to Big Picture everything. "Where was government regulation before this crisis was happening?" he asks Markey, who is too good a guy to come back with "Enjoying a media-enabled period of extended somnambulation, maybe?"

How can the industry help us, Hock-Monster? He says people should buy his book, and stop "odd-hocking" our way into the future, and the industry is too fragmented and needs to take a longer view of things -- preferably, he says, a plan the government develops. (BUT THE OIL INDUSTRY LOBBYISTS, WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THEM, DUDE?)

Meanwhile, Barbour says that it would be terrible if there was a moratorium on offshore drilling, because gas prices might go up so that Americans might actually have to start paying the sort of prices that the rest of the world pays. He also levies criticism at the Waxman-Markey bill, which Markey predictably defends, pointing out that his bill provides market incentives to move to sustainable forms of energy, greater energy efficiency, and innovation.

Landrieu also wants for oil drilling, but says it's time to start moving past oil production. Gregory literally wants to know if she agrees with her own position -- which is ALL POSITIONS, SIMULTANEOUSLY. Naturally, she does agree with her position. Obviously, this was a surprising MEET THE PRESS development that I just had to share with you! I'm sorry I do not yet have a video of this part of the show, for you to share with your children, as Landrieu blathers on and on platitudinously, about how carefully she constructed a brilliantly non-controversial position on the matter, by embracing all points of view and synthesizing it into a marm, that could not be removed from Plaquemines Parish if it washed on shore there.

"Katty Kay, we only have about twenty seconds left, but look at the enormity of the challenge," Gregory says next, in a fitting elocution of how this show orders its priorities.

So, that's that for today. I'll share with you some sad news! Manute Bol, a seven-foot-seven basketballer who used to play here in Washington, died at the age of 47 this weekend. The guy was about as decent a gentleman to ever spend time in the District of Columbia. He made millions of dollars as an NBA player -- more than enough to have entered his own yacht into the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race if he had wanted to, but instead he took the money he had made and invested it in attempting to make life better for the people of his native Sudan.

You know, Bol had a fair share of strange career lowlights. Why was he boxing William "The Refrigerator" Perry, on teevee, for example? Well, it was because it would provide him with more money to spend on people who the rest of the world had basically forgotten. And he died this weekend of health complications that stemmed from the work he did in Sudan. Heaven's shotblocking game has been immensely improved this weekend, and that's glad news. But the rest of this story, really, really sucks, and I just don't know what else to say about it than that. Very frustrating!

Anyway, here's a wish for better weeks ahead, to one and all.