Oil spill the focus on NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC Sunday shows

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If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press… and Fox News Sunday… and Face the Nation… and This Week…

ABC’s Jake Tapper scored this Sunday’s biggest interview, a one-on-one with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on This Week. Emanuel criticized Congressman Joe Barton for his apology to BP for the $20 billion “shakedown” it suffered at the White House. In the process, he shot off the best one-liner of the week, saying of BP CEO Tony Hayward’s joyride on his yacht: “Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back, as he would say.” Emanuel also weighed in on what he called a “moment of opportunity” for peace in the Middle East and on Democrats’ prospects in the midterm elections:

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation last week to demand an end to President Obama’s moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, appeared today on NBC’s Meet the Press as part of a panel that included Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and former Shell President John Hofmeister. Asked by moderator David Gregory about the moratorium, Barbour again insisted that it is a “terrible thing” that will increase energy prices and kill jobs. His comments are at the four minute mark here:

Gregory also had an exclusive interview with Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer appointed to handle claims payments from the $20 billion BP escrow fund established this week. Surprisingly, Feinberg gave BP credit for having already established a claims payment process before the supposed White House shakedown even occurred:

On CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer elicited reaction to Congressman Barton’s “shakedown” remarks from almost all of his panelists. Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby was quick to distance himself and his party from the apologetic sentiments, saying Barton “only spoke for himself. That is not mainstream Republican thought.”

Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson used the gaffe as evidence that big oil controls the GOP, explaining that for years, “the oil industry has ruled the roost, and in part they still do.” Lousiana Congressman Joseph Cao, a Republican, said the remarks were uncharacteristic of Barton, explaining, “I know that Joe Barton is a caring person and it somewhat baffles me with respect to why he apologized to BP.” Even mild-mannered moderator Bob Schieffer commented on Barton’s statement:

Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace also covered the oil spill in his interview with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem blaming the administration for a lackluster federal response:

[President Obama] himself is in charge of developing a contingency plan to deal with oil spills. What happened to it?  We know there are skimmers around the world that could be sent here.  Where are they?  The administration has a role to play in this and they haven’t done a very good job so far.

But the week’s main interview was with Defense Secretary Gates on Afghanistan. Gates was optimistic about the planned July 2011 start date for U.S. withdrawal, saying of the Afghan army, “The reality is the Afghan national army is meeting expectations and above that.”