Kerry Picket scores a scoop at the Washington Times today with audio of an impromptu interview conducted with Charles Rangel last week on the Gulf oil spill.  Kerry must have caught Rangel in a particularly frustrated mood — not uncommon these days when the Gulf oil spill gets discussed — when she asked Rangel for his take on the administration’s response.  Rangel said that the Obama White House didn’t have the “slightest clue” what to do:

A few days before the recent Congressional recess, I spoke with Congressman Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, who seemed frustrated the administration had not dealt with the oil companies before the spill (all emphasis is mine):

“I have a bias against the oil companies always having it just their way. Quite frankly, it may be that the administration is doing all that they can, but as a result of us never demanding more of the oil companies, now that we have a crisis, it would appear to me, that this president and other presidents always said, ‘but what if.’ It’s abundantly clear that no one said, ‘but what if.’  But [they] left it up to the oil companies to decide what we would do. The fact they are doing all that they can is not an answer. It’s what they should have done and what we will have to demand that they would do.”

Mr. Rangel also believes the administration is in the dark regarding the administration’s faith in BP fixing the break and cleaning up the spill:

I don’t think the administration has the slightest clue. We’re bringing in experts now, in and outside of government, to see whether or not BP will do more. We should have had the answers to that long before we even drilled. Now we’re trying to find the answer after the problem. The potential danger was always there.”

Be sure to follow the link back for the audio, which Kerry has embedded on the WT site.

Rangel makes a good point here.  Both the industry and the government should have at least gamed out the possibility of a blowout and prepared some sort of response protocol for it.  Bruce McQuain calls it a “go to hell plan,” ready to be put in place when everything goes to hell and all of the backups can’t stop a catastrophe.  Instead of being prepared, it looks as though everyone sat around scratching their heads for a while, and then started grasping at straws through increasingly desperate ad hoc measures.  Rangel is right when he says that we should have had the answers, or at least a plan, long before an actual blowout at 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf, and that failure will impact our ability to continue the drilling we must do to produce our own energy.

Who’s fault is that?  Well, it’s BP’s fault for not being prepared to handle its own mess.  It’s also the fault of the federal government through several past administrations for not ensuring that the industry was prepared to respond in a timely and proper manner.  That includes this administration, especially since they spent 16 months apparently doing nothing at MMS to fix the regulatory failings at the Interior Department agency, but it’s not exclusive to it, either.  Nevertheless, the Obama White House has been in charge long enough to have analyzed this before announcing its drilling policy in March, and they need to start doing something about it.  Up to now, they have looked entirely clueless, and ineffective as a result.