Michael Brown Thinks Obama is Promoting Policy With Disaster

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," May 21, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: The president today ordering stricter fuel- efficiency standards for trucks, among other things, and using the spill in the Gulf to help make the case for it.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The disaster in the Gulf only underscores that, even as we pursue domestic production to reduce our reliance on imported oil, our long-term security depends on the development of alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies.


CAVUTO: Which brings us to one Michael Brown.


MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: It’s pure politics. This president has never supported big oil. He’s never supported offshore drilling. And now he has an excuse to shut it back down.


CAVUTO: So, we were kind of asking ourselves today, was Brownie right? Is the president politicizing this oil spill to push a green agenda?

The former FEMA director back with us now.

Director, good to have you back now. Thank you for coming.

BROWN: Hi, Neil. How are you?

CAVUTO: Good, good, good.

BROWN: My pleasure.

CAVUTO: You know, your last visit here, boy, you really created a dustup, and for myself included.

BROWN: Me? I thought it was you.

CAVUTO: Yes, really.


CAVUTO: But, you know, first off, we say on the regard that the original charges out of the White House that you said they planted this oil spill and deliberately set it off, that was — that was not what you ever said, but what you did say...

BROWN: Right.

CAVUTO: ...which proved controversial as well, was that they would use it to advance an agenda. Indications today maybe you were right. What do you see happening now?

BROWN: Well, and actually, if you go out and if you go into the blogosphere and look at some of the news sites, Neil, you will now see — for example, on The Huffington Post, there are a couple of articles about how the president should use this crisis now, we have got to use this crisis to push the green economy, to push these alternate sources of energy.

So, these are on the left are beginning to say it. You have seen what Salazar is doing with MMS service. He’s starting to kind of divide it up.

And I think this — which has not hit the wires too much — the Environmental Protection Agency was in negotiations with BP about debarring them from federal contracts. They have now walked away from those negotiations the last I heard.


CAVUTO: But, Michael, to be fair, on this day, what the president was saying, he is still for exploring for oil and all of that, said that this fuel-efficiency push, particularly for trucks, when he cited the Gulf oil spill, he was citing the vulnerability of our oil supply, and just because prices run up and down shouldn’t make us lose our resolve about more efficient vehicles that save on energy.


BROWN: Right.

CAVUTO: What say you?

BROWN: And I think that’s smart of the president, because I will say this. I know my friends on the right will say I have gone nuts.


CAVUTO: They said that long ago, Michael. They said that long ago.


BROWN: Yes, OK. Yes, you’re right. You’re right.

But I think the president is trying to be practical. He recognizes that he can’t just shut down oil and gas. But now you’re starting to see this move. And, so, as the blogospheres and the advisers and the commentators and others start talking about it, they will slowly start pushing this agenda about these alternate sources, which is nuts.

The marketplace should take care of that, not government regulation. So...


CAVUTO: But is there anything wrong with just advocating more fuel- efficient vehicles? I know it’s a Herculean leap and a struggle for automakers to provide it.

But if we didn’t set standards decades ago to start the process, we would still be getting about five feet a gallon in a lot of vehicles, right? Now, I know, you’re quite right, we can overdo it, but we’re vulnerable to this sort of thing and leaks and Mideast folks who aren’t exactly our big fans.

So, is there anything wrong with pushing, not necessarily a greener agenda, but a more fuel-efficient one?


BROWN: No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking what happened in the Gulf, figuring out what was the cause of it, and then implementing new regulations, new policies, new standards to prevent it from happening again. That’s the right thing to do, not to politicize it and start pushing the agenda.

I really believe that the president is going to try to take a practical stance about it, but I worry about those advisers and those on the left who will just be gung-ho and push it harder perhaps than he wants to go.

CAVUTO: Finally — and I don’t mean this in entire jest, Michael — how does it feel to have a Republican president, your old boss, and now his successor, a Democratic president, and they both don’t seem to flip over you?

BROWN: You know, I don’t get that, Neil, because you know what? I’m kind of a nice guy. And, at the end of the day, it’s kind of nice being right.

And I have been a student of politics my entire life, so you know what? Sometimes, I know what I’m talking about.

CAVUTO: Michael, it’s always a pleasure. And you always have an open invite on this show.

Michael Brown, former FEMA director...

BROWN: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: ...thank you very much.

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