ThinkFast: May 3, 2010

President Obama speaks about oil spill in Louisiana

President Obama visited Louisiana yesterday afternoon to observe the response effort to the BP oil spill, which he called a “potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.” “Your government will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to stop this crisis,” he pledged. But Obama said taxpayers would not be on the hook for the cleanup, saying “BP is responsible for this leak — BP will be paying the bill.”

Speaking to a mostly Republican audience near Kansas City on Saturday, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin called the Gulf Coast oil spill “very tragic,” but said the U.S. should continue drilling offshore. “I want our country to be able to trust the oil industry,” she said, adding, “We’ve got to tap domestically because energy security will be the key to our prosperity.”

Oil giant BP said today that it will pay “all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs” related to the recent oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. “BP takes responsibility for responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We will clean it up,” said a company statement.

Obama administration officials told Newsweek that the Department of Homeland Security signaled to Arizona police that “it will most likely detain and deport only violent criminals” arrested because of the state’s new anti-immigration law. All others “will get a written notice requesting that they appear for a future hearing — warnings that some immigration officers call ‘run letters’ because recipients so rarely show up.”

Conservative Latinos are rethinking their ties to the Republican Party in the wake of the GOP’s reaction to the new anti-immigrant Arizona law. Massey Villarreal, a past national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said, “It’s insulting to have Republican leaders across the country applauding this racist law. I’m sure this is going to hurt the Republican Party.”

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated for comprehensive immigration reform in cities across America Saturday. The largest rally was in Los Angeles where reportedly 50,000 people took part.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called on committee chairmen to “redouble your efforts” to chip away at the federal budget, stressing the need to improve “government operations to help achieve deficit reduction and long-term fiscal responsibility.” In a letter to the chairmen last week, she asked them to send her a response by May 28 outlining their plans for hearings on the matter.

Medical interests alone shelled out more than $876 million in lobbying expenses during the 15 months beginning in January 2009 and ending in March, when Congress passed the sweeping overhaul,” Roll Call reports. Those interests, which include the drug industry, doctors, hospitals and manufacturers of medical products, “were responsible for one out of every five dollars doled out on lobbying during that period.”

The Pentagon “will release long-classified statistics about the total size of America’s nuclear arsenal” today as “part of an effort to make the case that the country is honoring its treaty commitments to shrink its inventory of weapons significantly” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will make the commitment to release the figures publicly in a speech at the opening of a United Nations conference.

And finally: By all accounts, amateur comedian Barack Obama outperformed professional comedian Jay Leno at Saturday night’s White House correspondents dinner. It turns out Obama had some professional help, however. The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove reports that writers from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show helped pen some of Obama’s “razor-sharp” jokes.

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