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CBS's Rodriguez Urges John Kerry to Denounce Offshore Oil Drilling

In an interview with Senator John Kerry on Wednesday's CBS Early Show on the Gulf Coast oil spill, co-host Maggie Rodriguez hit from the left on new energy legislation proposed by the Massachusetts Democrat: "correct me if I'm wrong, your legislation calls for expanding offshore drilling at a time when polls show most Americans no longer support it. Why do you believe it's necessary to do that?"

A CBS News poll flashed on screen showing that only 46% Americans now support offshore oil drilling in the wake of the spill, as opposed to 62% supporting it in 2008. Kerry responded by pointing out that his bill would "actually restrict the current plan of the President" to expand offshore drilling. Rodriguez pressed further: "Are you saying it does not call for expanded offshore drilling?" Kerry reiterated: "I'm saying that it restricts the current law and it restricts the President's current plan."

Kerry began the interview by touting his desire to restrict oil production: "we have to really take the steps that we've been talking about for 30 years, for too long now, to move away from our energy dependence on fossil fuels, and particularly on imported fuel....The importance is now to move to the new economy." Apparently anything short of an all out ban on offshore drilling was not enough for Rodriguez.

Later in the segment, spurred by Rodriguez, Kerry proclaimed: "we're not going to stop drilling all of a sudden....it isn't going to disappear until we put our bill in place."

On the April 1 Early Show, after the Obama administration first outlined a plan to expand offshore drilling, Rodriguez warned: "President Obama's controversial offshore drilling proposal is making big waves. Critics say the risks are obvious, but not the rewards." She later fretted that Obama was enacting the policy "at the risk of alienating his Democratic base."

Here is a full transcript of the interview:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us from Washington, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Senator Kerry, good morning. JOHN KERRY: Good morning to you.

RODRIGUEZ: As we've just heard, BP keeps trying, and so far failing, to contain all these oil leaks. How can our government, how can you assure the American people that everything necessary will be done to make sure this doesn't happen again?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Blame Game; Sen. Kerry on Oil Spill Finger-Pointing]

KERRY: Well, it's going to be. We're - Senator Lieberman and I - are introducing legislation today called the American Power Act, which is a major shift in America's energy policy. What this spill in the Gulf tells us, above all, is that we have to really take the steps that we've been talking about for 30 years, for too long now, to move away from our energy dependence on fossil fuels, and particularly on imported fuel.

The importance is now to move to the new economy, the new - the new energy economy, if you will, where we're producing our energy at home. We're producing green energy. We're producing clean energy. Energy which can't ultimately have the kind of problem that we had in the Gulf. But we also, we know we're going to continue to drill for some period of time, so we have to make certain we know exactly what happened in the Gulf, and that we have the ability to prevent that from ever happening again.

Most importantly, we need to get in to the global marketplace and compete with China, with India, with Mexico, Brazil, other countries. America's falling behind. We want America to be number one in clean energy power production. We can reduce pollution, create jobs, and restore our energy independence, and that's the direction we have to move in.

RODRIGUEZ: But Senator Kerry, correct me if I'm wrong, your legislation calls for expanding offshore drilling at a time when polls show most Americans no longer support it. Why do you believe it's necessary to do that?

[ON-SCREEN GRAPHIC OF CBS NEWS POLL: Increase Offshore Drilling; Now: 46%; 2008: 62%]

KERRY: That's not what we do. We actually restrict the current plan of the President. We give states greater power, and say, over their future, we give them a choice-

RODRIGUEZ: Are you saying it does not-

KERRY: -as to what will happen.

RODRIGUEZ: -call for expanded offshore drilling?

KERRY: I'm saying that it restricts - I'm saying that it restricts the current law and it restricts the President's current plan. That is exactly what I am saying. It gives states greater power to be able to make a choice about what will happen in the future in terms of drilling. And in addition to that, it places a moratorium on current drilling until we know what happened in the Gulf, and then we proceed forward.

But, look, we're not going to stop drilling all of a sudden. Americans drive their cars every day. We heat our homes. We do things with this oil. And it isn't going to disappear until we put our bill in place. The American Power Act, which will move us to a new energy economy, where we're producing clean energy, a broader array of energy options for the country, so we could have clean energy produced in one part of the country, transferred to another part of the country. All of that is going to take time. And we are putting in place the mechanism so we can reduce pollution, clean up our air and our water, create jobs here at home, and increase America's energy independence, thereby strengthening our national security. That's exactly what our bill does today.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright. Senator John Kerry, thank you so much for your time.

KERRY: Thank you.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.