- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2010

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Sunday took aim at President Obama’s handling of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, suggesting that campaign contributions made by oil companies to the president may have slowed the administration’s response to the crisis.

“I don’t know why the question isn’t asked … if there’s any connection there to President Obama taking so doggone long to get in there, to dive in there and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico,” Mrs. Palin said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate also questioned whether the “mainstream media” were hesitant to report on the millions of campaign dollars doled out to Mr. Obama and other Democrats by BP PLC, which operated the ill-fated oil platform that exploded off the coast of Louisiana last month.

Mrs. Palin suggested that had the spill occurred under the watch of President George W. Bush or another Republican administration, she said, “then you know the mainstream media would be all over his case, in terms of asking questions why the administration didn’t get in there.”

Despite the Gulf spill, Mrs. Palin, who as Alaska’s governor pushed for drilling in portions of the state’s interior, said she still supports domestic drilling.

“I am a big supporter of domestic extraction of the resources that we are so reliant on, versus relying on foreign sources of energy … regimes that can use energy as a weapon and have less stringent environmental standards than we have,” she said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Sunday defended the administration’s response to the spill, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it was “doing everything in our power morning, noon and night to make sure that we contain what is happening.”

Mr. Gibbs also mocked Mrs. Palin, saying he didn’t think she “was paying a whole lot of attention” during the 2008 campaign.

“I’m almost sure that the oil companies don’t consider the Obama administration a huge ally. We proposed a windfall-profits tax,” he said. “My suggestion to Sarah Palin would be to get slightly more informed as to what’s going on.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Obama has received more than $77,000 from BP — more than any other candidate among the $3.5 million it has donated over the last 20 years.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Sunday that the state is not waiting for federal approval to begin building sand barriers to protect the coastline from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Mr. Jindal made the defiant comments as oil pushed at least 12 miles into the heart of Louisiana’s marshes. Two major pelican rookeries are now awash in crude. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying the environmental impact of the governor’s emergency barrier proposal.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Sunday that the federal government will remove BP from the operation to cap the leak if it decides the company is not performing as it should.

“I am angry, and I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this oil from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading,” Mr. Salazar told reporters after visiting BP’s U.S. headquarters in Houston, according to the Reuters news agency.

“We are 33 days into this effort and deadline after deadline has been missed” on containment efforts, he added.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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