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Pelosi Takes Aim at BP

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi doesn't face strong opposition in her bid for re-election, but as one of Congress's most influential power-brokers - and a strong ally of President Obama - she has faced increased scrutiny and criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. AP

PR advice for BP from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: don't pay out any dividends to investors until you've compensated those who have suffered losses from the oil spill.

That would be BP's best public relations move, said Pelosi, "instead of taking out all these ads."

It's another illustration of how BP is politically radioactive and the target of demonization.

"It is clear that there was a lack of integrity on the part of BP," said Pelosi to reporters in the White House driveway upon emerging from a congressional leaders meeting with President Obama.

She questioned BP's veracity about "the adequacy of their technology, the sufficiency of blowout prevention and the capacity to clean up."

Mr. Obama is decidedly keeping his distance from BP. He has not yet met with or even spoken to any executives from the oil company.

He told the House and Senate leaders of both parties today that the laws now in place governing oil spill liability "have not been adequate for a crisis of this magnitude."

Is President Obama Avoiding BP's Tony Hayward? Special Report: Disaster in the Gulf

He called on Congress to update the laws "to make sure that the people in the Gulf, the fishermen, the hotel owners, families who are dependent for their livelihoods in the Gulf, that they are all made whole and that we are in a much better position to respond to any such crisis in the future."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs gave reporters the runaround at his daily briefing when peppered with questions on whether Mr. Obama would meet with BP CEO Tony Hayward.

He might meet with BP's Chairman of the Board, said Gibbs, who portrayed the chairman as the real top executive at the company. In any case, Mr. Obama is in no hurry to hold such a meeting.

The White House is content to let oil spill incident commander Adm. Thad Allen convey government directives to BP. The White House clearly thinks his uniform is lead-lined so as to protect him from the political radioactivity.

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here:
Mark Knoller

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.

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