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Obama says he's furious about oil spill but loves 'best job on Earth'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Obama 'furious' over Gulf oil spill
  • President Obama says he's furious about the Gulf oil spill, but his job is to fix it, not vent
  • Obama calls the crisis unprecedented, but says it could have been worse
  • Despite challenges, Obama calls being president "the best job on Earth"
  • Obama was interviewed by CNN's Larry King for the 25th anniversary of "Larry King Live"

President Obama goes one-on-one with Larry King on Thursday night to talk about the oil spill, economic turmoil and war. Watch"Larry King Live," at 9 p.m. ET.

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama told CNN's Larry King on Thursday that he is furious about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but his job is to fix things instead of just yelling at people.

In a White House interview for the 25th anniversary of "Larry King Live" on CNN, Obama called the oil spill an unprecedented crisis for the country but added it could have been worse.

Despite the challenges posed by the oil spill, global threats involving North Korea and Iran and political battles with Congress, Obama called being president "the best job on Earth."

"It's an extraordinary privilege to wake up every day and know you have the opportunity to serve the American people and make life better," he said.

King noted that the latest CNN Poll of Polls showed Obama at 48 percent support among the American people, which the president called pretty good, considering the circumstances.

"Given everything that's going on, my poll numbers are all right," Obama said.

Asked about his anger toward the oil spill situation, Obama said he was furious because "somebody didn't think through the consequences of their actions." Obama also said he had not seen enough of a rapid response from BP to the environmental catastrophe.

"I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people, but that's not the job I was hired to do," Obama said. "My job is to solve this problem and ultimately this isn't about me and how angry I am. Ultimately this is about the people down in the Gulf who are being impacted and what am I doing to make sure that they're able to salvage their way of life."

Oil giant BP caused the spill and is responsible for paying the costs, Obama said, adding: "My job is to make sure they're being held accountable."

In the wide-ranging interview to be broadcast Thursday night, Obama also acknowledged Israel's security concerns while questioning the Israeli blockade of Gaza following this week's military raid on a flotilla of ships carrying relief supplies to the Palestinian territory.

The president called the incident that killed nine people, including a Turkish-American man, a "tragic situation" that could serve as "an opportunity" to advance the Middle East peace process."

Video: Crist: Obama doing everything he can

On the oil spill, Obama said BP has the best technology and know-how to try to stop the leak, but the president indicated that the spill could continue until relief wells being drilled now are completed in August.

Despite the havoc that the oil spill is causing to Gulf fisheries and fragile wetlands, Obama said he still supports off-shore drilling "if it can be done safely." Asked about reports that his administration had extended a moratorium on offshore drilling to shallow water rigs, Obama denied it.

"Actually the moratorium is not extended to the shallow waters," the president said.

On another topic, Obama criticized Arizona's controversial new immigration law because it could lead to "50 different laws in 50 different states" regarding border security, which is a federal concern.

The interview took place shortly after Obama met with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who said Obama pledged to work with her on solving the immigration problem.

The new Arizona law, which takes effect in July, allows police officers to check the residency status of anyone who is being investigated for a crime or possible legal infraction if there is reasonable suspicion the person is an illegal resident.

Critics, including Attorney General Eric Holder, have said the law will promote racial profiling.

Obama told CNN that the issue required a broader response than just strengthening border security, and he urged Congress to work with him on comprehensive immigration reform that would tighten the border while requiring illegal immigrants to register, pay back taxes and penalties, learn English and seek citizenship through normal channels.

The president also discussed the status of pending free agent basketball star Lebron James, saying that part of him hoped James would re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers because it would be a "great story."

Obama, who is from Chicago and a known fan of the hometown Bulls, acknowledged his response might make people there unhappy.

The president also called Wednesday night's White House concert honoring former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney a great event, particularly when McCartney serenaded the first lady with the love ballad that shares her first name, "Michelle."

"When she was a little girl growing up on the South Side (of Chicago), I don't think she ever imagined that happening," Obama said.