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Obama Meeting With BP Execs an "Inflection Point"

President Barack Obama today followed up last night's Oval Office address by talking with BP officials about dealing responsibly with claims made by businesses and individuals affected by the oil spill.

BP will put $20 billion in a fund to be administered by an independent third party. Mr. Obama said the Britain-based company will continue to be liable for the environmental catastrophe -- and that his administration will make sure it follows through. Senior Politico reporter Ken Vogel sat down with moderator Bill Plante on Washington Unplugged to talk about the impact of today's events.

"It's an inflexion point," Vogel said. "They certainly hope it's one to the extent that they will no longer be talking about this sort of absence of leadership that critics have alleged that Obama has shown in the situation." Some critics compared Mr. Obama's response to the crisis in the Gulf to Bush's lack of response to Hurricane Katrina, but Vogel says that's an unfair comparison.

"His hands are tied," Vogel said. "There's not a lot that he can do so he's using the sort of avenues that are open to him. He's trying to appear to be on top of this by relaying new information to the American public, even if it is not information about anything that he has ordered or decreed."

Vogel also discussed the president's push for energy legislation in his speech last night.

"They're hoping to...turn the page and talk more about the energy legislation that democrats have put forward in Congress," he said, arguing that Mr. Obama is making the case that energy legislation "should now be a priority because this oil leak has shown that our dependence on oil, in particular foreign oil, deepwater drilled oil, it is not healthy; potentially catastrophic."

Republicans fired back at that notion, casting it as political opportunism. But Vogel sees it differently.

"This is sort of an example that no matter what President Obama does in this situation he is going to be open to criticism," he said.

Watch Wednesday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring an interview with filmmakers Steven Greenstreet on the new documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition, about the Mormon Church's backing of the controversial Proposition 8 in California. Plus CBS News' Christina Ruffini offers a report on the State Department's release of its annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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