How Did BP CEO Tony Hayward Do on Capitol Hill? The 'All-Star' Panel Weighs In

From left to right: Bill Kristol, Juan Williams, Charles Krauthammer and Bret Baier(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP: I give my pledge as the leader of BP that we will not rest until we make this right. We're a strong company and no resources will be spared.

 

REP. HENRY WAXMAN, D-CALIF., HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We have reviewed 30,000 pages of documents from BP including your e-mails. There is not a single e-mail or document that shows you paid even the slightest attention to the dangers at this well.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

BRET BAIER, "SPECIAL REPORT" HOST: Well, analysts in that room said Tony Hayward, the CEO, BP's CEO, was an impressive witness, so much so it frustrated Chairman Waxman. He said he wasn't involved in any of the decision making specifically in regards to that well and he wanted to wait for investigations to come out and see exactly what the reason was behind the explosion. This with, of course, criminal investigations and civil trials pending.

 

Let's bring in our panel, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

 

Bill, your assessment of Tony Hayward on the hot seat?

 

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Unimpressive, I think. Eight weeks after a huge accident you can't just say I'm the CEO and I didn't make these decisions. Of course he didn't make particular decisions on what cement to use, but he has presumably reviewed everything and he should be able to either defend or not defend what his company did.

 

So I thought he fit right into that whole hearing, which each of them was worse than the next.

BAIER: But as far as from a legal perspective, and he's obviously lawyered up at this point, he didn't answer effectively?

 

KRISTOL: I don't know. I guess from a legal perspective, he was very cautious. But from the point of view of convincing people like me who is open minded that BP is persecuted by a demagogic congressional committee Chairman Henry Waxman, he didn't make any case. And then you read the paper that BP has many more safety violations than Exxon Mobile and other companies and you think probably not a very well run oil company.

 

BAIER: Juan?

 

JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: I think that's exactly right. I understand he has to protect himself and BP because the lawsuits are coming and he doesn't want to say anything that could impugn him or the company and the deep pockets later.

 

But I think that he had -- it's a clear, obvious to me now in terms of the e-mails that Waxman referred to, that he wasn't involved. He could say I wasn't involved. But this business of "I'm not a cement engineer, I don't drill," that seemed to me to have a little arrogance about it and it was totally inappropriate.

 

BAIER: Charles?

 

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: These hearings are always political theater. No one expects you'll get real information and you certainly won't get real information when you're company is under investigation criminally by the attorney general of the United States. Of course he is going to be cautious, non- disclosive, and lawyered up.

 

I must say I welcome these rituals. We haven't had a good Inca ritual slaughter since the Goldman Sachs hearings. I have talked about this before where they take a virgin to the top of a mountain, and everyone goes home happy except for, of course, the virgin. Here, because we have a scarcity of virgins, we send a CEO instead and they whack him around for a whole day and everybody goes home happy. The only difference is our procedure has let blood, but a lot more talking. I'm not sure which is preferable. Nobody expects anything out of these. Hayward, he didn't play into the expectation of the Democrats, he played it very neutral, and that's why nothing essentially was learned.

 

BAIER: There was an added element to this Inca ritual, if you will, the addition of Representative Barton from Texas who had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE BARTON, R-TEXAS: I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it's a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.

 

ED MARKEY, D-MASS., HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: I want to begin by disagreeing in the strongest possible terms with what Mr. Barton said.

 

BARTON: I want the record to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident and should be held responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That was the first apology, and then the formal apology, and then Republican officials with apologies for Barton's apology, distancing themselves from him. What about this, Charles?

 

KRAUTHAMMER: I think that wins the award for the most politically stupid statement of the year and we could retire it right now in June. It's absolutely astonishing. The guy apologizes and then apologizes for his apology in one day. I think that's the world indoor record for that.

 

You don't express sympathy for a corporation that's soiled and destroyed the Gulf coast. What you can do is you can say we don't like the precedent of the federal government using its leverage and threats of prosecution to force companies into acting against what might be their own interest. It's not a good precedent. We had to do it in this case because we want to protect the income of the people in the Gulf who suffered, but it's been done in the case f the nationalization of the auto companies. It started in the Bush administration when Henry Paulson brought in the head of the six banks and said I'm now your partner and you will do as I say, and they had to, the way it's done in banana republics, except we didn't have a gun on the table. So it's a tradition which is a bad one, and it should stop after this one.

 

BAIER: You're saying he just was ineloquent?

 

KRAUTHAMMER: He was ineloquent, and he missed the point. It was not a defense of BP but a worry about the way the federal government intervenes in particular cases.

 

WILLIAMS: Shakedown, Charles? Shakedown? As if it's extortion to say that someone who acted recklessly and was abandoned should be held accountable?

 

I mean, I don't understand what he was driving at. I think you're kind to suggest he had a larger principle in mind, because all that the government is doing, whether you consider it Republicans or the Democrats or the Obama administration is saying here is the damage you have done and these people are in need of immediate help, and rather than go through all the legal process, are you willing to help them? And they said yes.

 

KRAUTHAMMER: He didn't have the larger principle in mind. I did.

 

WILLIAMS: All right.

 

BAIER: Bill, settle this.

 

KRISTOL: Someone said a while ago that the Democrats are the evil party and the Republicans are the stupid party, and they showed it very well today. The Democrats want to destroy business in the United States by turning us into a banana republic, and the Republicans' idea how to defend business is make ludicrous statements like this, a tragedy of the first proportion and to sympathize with a company that acted badly and foolishly, a company whose CEO Tony Hayward has not been very impressive. What did he say? I want to get my life back. That was his way to sympathizing with the people of the Gulf.

 

And the chairman, I can't remember his name, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said a few days in the White House he cares a lot about the small people. You watch all these guys in Washington and I'm signing up to the Tea Party tomorrow. They should all go, Joe Barton, Henry Waxman, the heads of BP, Svanberg, they all should go.

 

KRAUTHAMMER: Mass ritual slaughter.

 

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Back to the Incas.

 

Oil spill is not the top priority of most Americans. We'll talk about what is, next. During the break, go to the homepage at foxnews.com/specialreport. You can vote on your pick to begin tomorrow's lightning round.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

BAIER: Vice President Joe Biden at the White House defended the stimulus package getting ready for a summer of doing that, we're told. This is as a new poll is out today. What do you think is the most important problem facing the country? Gallup poll, economy in general, 28 percent, unemployment/jobs, 21 percent, those two are alike.

 

The oil spill and response, 18 percent, and dissatisfaction with government or lack of leadership 14 percent.

 

About the stimulus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this month said since the stimulus was passed about 400,000 public sector employees have been added, those jobs. Public sector employers added jobs, 400,000 while the private sector shed 2.65 billion jobs.

 

What about this push by the White House, Charles?

 

KRAUTHAMMER: I think the jobs number is interesting because it tells us, we saw it last month that the census alone added, I think it was 450,000 in one month. And it tells us as the private industry is losing employment and public polls, the public rolls are being padded that we are getting a shift as a result of this recession and the money that the federal government is injecting from private employment into public employment.

 

And it's not good for future of the country. You get a lot more bang for the buck when you get private enterprise and business. You don't create wealth by taking a census and knocking on doors.

 

BAIER: Politically, Juan, the White House is compelled to make this sale again right now.

 

WILLIAMS: Well the evidence is in front of everyone's eyes this summer as you move around America because there are going to be lots of public service projects on the roads, infrastructure-type deals that will be in evidence. So people who were making criticism, some of them I'm in their company this evening, are going to be able to say, you know what, I don't see how the stimulus helped America. I don't see these projects, I don't see what's come of it. Well, this summer you will see it.

 

Joe Biden will be out there and have a bull horn saying, look, here it is. Here, America, pay attention. This is the difference that that stimulus money made.

 

And he is also making the case on the Hill for additional spending. Because I think part of the argument had been -- it's interesting, but the left wing in the country, people like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, say we didn't spend enough to get us over the hump in terms of this recession.

 

BAIER: Not a big appetite, though, Bill, up on the hill.

 

KRISTOL: No. The Hill is right to resist this.

 

If the stimulus had been thrown out to manufacturers and private sector employers, I'd still think it was unwise policy but it might have done some good in short-term. Instead, it's worse. It's moved us closer to being Greece. We have lost 2.5 million private sector job and we the ballooned public sector at the same time. That's not just a recipe for wasting money but for accelerating us on the road to bankruptcy.

BAIER: I want to get on the board with this piece of tape that hit the Internet today. It's from an interview that Hillary Clinton did in Ecuador talking about the Arizona immigration law.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Obama has spoken out against the law because he thinks that the federal government should be determining immigration policy. And the Justice Department under his direction will be bringing a lawsuit against the act.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That raised some eyebrows. The Justice Department didn't confirm or deny that today. Governor Jan Brewer from Arizona is saying she is very surprised.

 

KRISTOL: Maybe President Obama and the attorney general finally read the law. They hadn't for the first week or two when they were commenting on it. This will be the much more lasting story today than Joe Barton's foolish gaffe. They are going to seriously bring a lawsuit, which it's not clear they have much good basis for, against the state of Arizona for a law that has been passed and has yet to be implemented?

 

They're going to simply heighten tensions on the immigration issue and I think it will hurt them badly.

 

BAIER: It's interesting that Hillary Clinton delivered that.

 

WILLIAMS: I wonder if it was unintentional, but it was revealing. I bet she knows what she is talking about even if she wasn't supposed to deliver the message.

 

And clearly the idea had been that Attorney General Eric Holder would look to see if there was justification. Now it sounds as if a decision has been imposed on him by the White House, which makes it seem more political. I will disagree with Bill. I think there is a basis in terms of federal law attaching to immigration policy, not state law.

BAIER: Here's the kicker, this was done a few days ago. June 8th was the Ecuador TV interview. It just caught everybody's attention today.

 

KRAUTHAMMER: On procedure it's really odd to announce it from Ecuador and the secretary of state. In principle it's a good idea. We ought to challenge this law in court and have courts decide whether or not it's constitutional. That's how we do it in this country.

 

BAIER: We'll follow this.

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