Newt on BP - 'Barack's Problem' - in the Gulf Oil Spill

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 3, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer just told you about her Oval Office meeting with the president today. What does former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich think? Well, let's ask. Speaker Gingrich joins us live. He is the author of the book "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular Socialist Machine." Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, photo-op today in the Oval Office, or a substantive meeting between the president and the governor of Arizona?

GINGRICH: Well, we'll know in two weeks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why (INAUDIBLE) wait two weeks?

GINGRICH: Look, I think -- I think he's playing rope-a-dope. But I think it's interesting that the weight of public opinion is moving him inch by inch towards controlling the border. And I think in two weeks, he either has to have a serious plan or it'll be obvious that this whole thing is a political charade.

What I would say on behalf of the governor and the people of Arizona is they now have the president's attention about border problems in a way that never happened prior to their passing that bill, and I think that's a very significant step in the right direction because once you start looking at the border and you look at the number of people coming across and you look at the public safety consequences, it's pretty hard for the president not to think that he's got some serious responsibilities as commander-in- chief to protect America.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, for 20-plus years, people have been talking this border.


VAN SUSTEREN: And Senator Kyl and Senator McCain sent a letter to the president, I don't know, about two months ago, saying, We need 6,000 troops. About a week ago, the president went to Capitol Hill and he didn't tell the Republican leadership, but when he left, he then ordered I think 1,200 or he said -- and now we have a situation today where we finally have the governor of the state and the president meeting, and it gets put off for two weeks for the two staffs to meet, and the two staffs are sitting in the same room. So it's a little bit odd. We've got the two principals in the room and we got the two staffs in the room. And it's just, like, I would be enormously impatient if I'd been waiting for 20-plus years...


GINGRICH: I think the people of Arizona are very impatient and should be.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't even know if it's -- (INAUDIBLE) call it impatient. I shouldn't say that. I would be annoyed because they have been patient.

GINGRICH: You know, I went back in my newsletter a couple weeks ago, and I started with Ronald Reagan writing in his diary in June of 1981, We have to control the border. Now, this is 29 years later.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, both parties are guilty!

GINGRICH: Yes. That's exactly right. And we have -- we have failed to do it. Every time we do start to control the border, by the way, it works. The pictures that you showed during that interview -- the sections of the border that we set out to control we actually end up controlling. But that requires you to think about the whole border. You make the investment in the whole border because, obviously, if you only control part of the border, the guys who want to get in aren't stupid, they go to the parts you're not controlling.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so if we can do it, then the only reason we wouldn't do it is either cost or there's no political will, that people -- that, essentially, that the politicians just don't give a damn. They have something better going on.

GINGRICH: I think the dirty secret about border control is that on the right, you have businesses that actually want illegal immigration to keep their labor costs down. And on the left, you have politicians who actually want illegal immigration because they think eventually, they'll be voters for the left. And those two groups have been blocking effective action for 29 years. But it's on both flanks.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how do -- so what do we do, just hope that the middle is big enough or that we're going to get (INAUDIBLE)

GINGRICH: Well, the -- yes...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... you know, or we're going to get politicians who are going to say suddenly -- realize that, you know, this does matter, that we really do need...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... we do need to fix this problem?

GINGRICH: What's happening as an issue is you're building a huge block in the middle that -- and you know, one survey I saw that Fox News did, 74 percent of the country thinks you ought to, in fact, check people to see whether or not they're here legally. Well, you start getting up to -- it was, like, 74-to-16. That's, like, almost a 4-to-1, almost 5-to-1 margin. You start getting that kind of consensus, and at some point, the system breaks and it has to pass it because they can't run for reelection with that kind of thing.

So I think you will see a control of the border. I think you're also going to see -- I was meeting today with Helen Kriebel (ph) of the Kriebel Foundation (INAUDIBLE) what she calls the "red card solution," which is a guest worker card that would be issued by American Express or Visa or Mastercard that would be accurate in identifying who you are. And there are pieces are going to come together.

VAN SUSTEREN: We need to take a quick break, Mr. Speaker.

Next: Did you hear what Vice President Biden said about the oil spill? You might say, What was he thinking? We're going to show you the tape.


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, at least someone is defending British Petroleum, maybe not so wise, Vice President Biden.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By and large, since the spill, since we've been on site, I think they have been -- they've responded to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Done the best they could, would you say?

BIDEN: Well, it's -- not being an oil man or an expert in this area, I think they have done the best they could.


VAN SUSTEREN: Speaker Gingrich is back with us. The best they could is flat-out failure, so maybe we ought to get them out of there. I mean...


GINGRICH: ... listening because I don't -- didn't the attorney general just go down and announce he was opening a criminal investigation?

VAN SUSTEREN: He did. So the best...

GINGRICH: So now...

VAN SUSTEREN: The best BP can do, though, is failure.

GINGRICH: No. BP now has a perfect tape to introduce to any potential inquest to say, Here's the vice president of the Obama administration saying we're doing the best we could. I mean, it's just -- how can you be this unable to get -- it's like -- it's like they're doing this.

But -- but in all fairness -- I was with James Carville today, who, as you know, has rather strong feelings on this topic, as a native Louisianan. So he lives in New Orleans and has been with Governor Jindal on the coast a lot. If -- this is a little bit like the last conversation we had. If the president goes out tomorrow and it's just another dog and pony show to get pictures, I think it further hurts him.

On the other hand, if he listens to Governor Jindal and he listens to the people who actually on site and some action starts to happen -- and there are two different questions. Fixing the well probably has to be a BP problem because they're one of the few companies in the world with the capacity to operate at 5,000 feet underwater. Fixing the oil that has come out of the well...

VAN SUSTEREN: The cleanup?

GINGRICH: ... the cleanup -- is a lot -- there are a lot more players that could be involved. And there is some confusion -- Congressman Darrell Issa released this evening some Coast Guard memos that indicate that, apparently, the Coast Guard actually had a plan, which, apparently, nobody in the gulf knew about, for what they were supposed to do, which was actually different than the Corps of Engineers plan.

And this is not peculiarly an Obama problem. I mean, President Bush had a similar problem in Katrina. And I would say that one of the things the country should take out of this is we need a very thorough overhaul of our large bureaucracies because part of the time, they just don't work. And it's not whether you're right or left, they just don't work.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I (INAUDIBLE) goes back to what I've been scandalized about, is MMS and how they're -- you know, all their fraternizing with the industry, and of course, we hear about porn and sex and everything like they're not doing their jobs. But I'm also critical of Congress, whose job it is to provide oversight, to make sure that these agencies and their divisions work well. Congress will probably hold hearings and say, Those bad people of BP, those bad people of MMS, and I'm thinking to myself, What's Congress doing?

GINGRICH: Well, I think that's fair and I think it requires a very different model. We have to rethink these bureaucracies for this reason. The people who might have been technically good enough 25 years ago to deal with relatively shallow wells in relatively shallow water are now being faced -- because BP submitted this well design to MMS. This was approved by the Department of Interior.

VAN SUSTEREN: It appears, though, that there were a lot of corners cut. It appears they knew there were problems. It appears even that particular day that they sensed that there were problems but they forged ahead anyway. So there were -- there were red flags.

GINGRICH: But literally, before you start drilling, you submit the entire design of the well to the government, and the government approves the design of the well. But what we're learning -- what Congressman Issa told me was there isn't anybody at MMS who has the technical knowledge for deep-water drilling at this level.

VAN SUSTEREN: They've looking at porn. We know -- we know they've been -- they've been -- they've been on their computers looking at porn in Denver or something. So -- I'm sarcastic, obviously. You don't know how to respond to that one...


VAN SUSTEREN: You're not taking that one? You're not taking that bait?

GINGRICH: I'm not taking the bait. I'm going to let you -- I'm sure that'll become an upcoming special.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you -- an upcoming -- all right, now you said the president has to do something substantive, rather than just a photo-op. How -- who do -- I mean, is just -- is listening to Governor Jindal -- is that -- I mean, what does -- how does -- what does he do when he goes down there? I mean, it's complicated.

GINGRICH: Well, I'll give you an example. BP was supposed to start dredging to build some of these barrier islands. As of today, in a document I saw this morning, they haven't -- for a week, they haven't done their job.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what is he going to do? He can't hit them. He already -- I mean, he can't go around and punch them. I mean...

GINGRICH: Oh, I think he could issue instructions to the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard that...

VAN SUSTEREN: To take over?

GINGRICH: If necessary, to take over the cleanup parts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why haven't we done that? I mean, that -- I mean, if BP has failed, and I think it's failed so far, at least on both fronts, cleanup and in terms of stopping this well, why not -- why not take over the cleanup?

GINGRICH: It's hard to understand why they haven't issued instructions and said, You are going to pay for this. I mean, part of it is the federal government doesn't want to pay for it. BP refuses to commit to pay for it. Here's Governor Jindal trying to save the coast, and he's in a position where he doesn't have any authority to get the job done, except to put Louisiana's money on the line for a disaster Louisiana had nothing to do with.

VAN SUSTEREN: I got a very sarcastic idea. He should pass a statute that's very offensive and have everyone get mad at him, like in Arizona. Maybe they'll pay attention.

GINGRICH: Well, I think he ought to call Governor Brewer and compare notes.


VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway -- very serious topic. I shouldn't be so flip about it. Mr. Speaker, thank you, and have a wonderful trip.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: You're going away, and we all know that, at least a little bit away. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

GINGRICH: See you soon.

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