Reporting from Washington — Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate who helped popularize "Drill, baby, drill" as a slogan, suggested Sunday that President Obama's campaign ties to the oil industry were impeding cleanup of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded that Palin should better inform herself about oil politics and policy.
Speaking on " Fox News Sunday," the former Alaska governor said she remained a "big supporter" of oil drilling but believed "these oil companies have got to be held accountable."
Pointing to what she termed the White House's relationship with "the oil companies who have so supported President Obama in his campaign and are supportive of him now," Palin questioned whether "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."
Gibbs, on CBS News' "Face the Nation," suggested Palin do some homework.
"I'm almost sure that the oil companies don't consider the Obama administration a huge ally," Gibbs said. "We proposed a windfall profits tax when they jacked their oil prices up to charge more for gasoline."
Gibbs said, "My suggestion to Sarah Palin would be to get slightly more informed as to what's going on in and around oil drilling in this country."
The oil and gas industry donated $2.4 million to Palin's running mate, Republican John McCain, in the 2008 election cycle, and nearly $900,000 to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' opensecrets.org website.
One month after the BP rig exploded and sank in the gulf, thousands of barrels of oil a day continue spilling as experts struggle to devise a way to cap the break and contain the crude. A live webcam shows the oil spewing underwater in graphic detail.
Criticism has been mounting over the inability of the White House and BP to stem the flow that is threatening the economic livelihood of gulf coast communities and wreaking environmental destruction.
Gibbs said the government "is doing everything humanly and technologically possible to plug the hole."
"Every bit of government has been activated," Gibbs said. "The president has told the team to spare nothing in trying to cap this well."
Asked whether there would be a criminal investigation of the spill, Gibbs said Justice Department lawyers have been to the gulf "to gather information on this."
Republicans popularized "Drill, baby, drill" as a campaign slogan in 2008 as gasoline prices were on the rise and Democrats promoted alternative energy sources. The slogan gained prominence during the Republican National Convention, and Palin often was greeted by chanting supporters on the campaign trail.
Palin said Sunday that she remained "a strong supporter of domestic energy supplies being extracted," and she said onshore drilling can be safer than in ocean waters.
"Maybe this is a lesson too for those who oppose safe, domestic supplies being extracted on our shores and on the land," she said, citing regions in Alaska. "Let us drill there where it is even safer than way offshore."
Palin has been a longtime advocate of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which environmentalists say should remain protected.