ThinkFast: June 17, 2010

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg apologized for speaking “clumsily” by referring to those hurt by his company’s oil spill as “small people.” “What I was trying to say,” Svanberg said, is “that BP understands how deeply this affects the lives of people who live along the Gulf.”

Though BP “agreed to pay $20 billion into an escrow account to cover claims associated with the oil spill disaster” in the Gulf, the costs to the company could soar “in coming months if the United States Department of Justice files criminal charges against the company.” Yesterday, “Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James, estimated the total legal cost, including criminal fines, at $62.9 billion.”

Moody’s is projecting that the best case scenario following BP’s oil disaster will “cost the Gulf region’s five states more than 16,000 jobs and $1.15 billion from the area’s gross domestic product.” Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi told The Hill, “It’s not going to affect the national economy. But it is going to have a very long impact on the regional economy.”

Forty-five public interest groups sent a letter to Congress yesterday “strongly protesting the effort to create a special exemption for the National Rifle Association from the provisions of the DISCLOSE Act,” adding that they will oppose the bill if it remains unchanged. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) also spoke out, saying she “strongly oppose[s]” the NRA carveout.

The Tea Party Express is pledging to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost little-known Joe Miller’s bid to defeat” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). A spokesman for the group said they “were inspired to look at Miller after Sarah Palin endorsed him earlier this month.” “Her endorsement kind of put the spotlight on Joe Miller,” said spokesman Levi Russell.

A new poll finds a majority of Americans support the new Arizona law to check “suspected illegal immigrants.” While there is a “steep racial divide on the Arizona question,” there is a “unifying” concern regarding federal enforcement of the border.

Israel is “promising to ease the importation of some goods by land” to Gaza, “but making no offer to lift its naval embargo.” Sari Bashi, director of Israeli human rights group Gisha, dismissed the move, calling it “cosmetic” and evidence that Israel is “tinkering with the policy of the last three years rather than reconsidering it.”

Marine scientists studying Gulf Coast wildlife are noticing “some strange — and troubling — phenomena” in the wake of the oil spill. Creatures ranging from dolphins to small fish are “showing up in surprisingly shallow water,” and oil-covered birds “are crawling deep into marshes.” These animals’ habitats may be “badly polluted,” and the “crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen.”

Yesterday, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey ripped MSNBC. “Any legitimate newsperson would be embarrassed to see them pretending to be newspeople,” he said. “They’re not news people. They’re political hacks.” He has previously dismissed Rachel Maddow as someone who has “a Ph.D. in something that doesn’t matter.”

And finally: Conservative women are swooning over Florida GOP U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, saying that hearing him talk is “like listening to Newt Gingrich, only younger and with a Cuban accent.”

Follow ThinkProgress on Twitter.