OBAMA KNOWS ‘WHOSE ASS TO KICK’…. Well, I suppose we can guess what the talked-about phrase of the day will be.

President Obama sat down with NBC’s Matt Lauer for a “Today” show interview that’s airing this morning. The network offered a brief preview last night, and released excerpts from the discussion. The released clip is only a half-minute long, but it shows a president that appeared visibly angry, and anxious to defend the White House’s handling of the disaster.

“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf,” Obama explained. “A month ago, I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. And I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar — we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

In the same interview, Lauer asked whether BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, could be “a reliable partner.” In particular, the interviewer noted that Hayward initially assured the public that “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” More recently, Hayward said he was anxious to resolve the crisis, in part because, “I want my life back.”

The president responded, “He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements.”

Of course, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the political media of late, it’s that remarks and displays like these won’t satiate complaining pundits. If I had to predict the response, I’d say we’ll see one media contingent complain that this wasn’t enough emotion, since the president didn’t literally start screaming and pummeling BP officials. A second will suggest Obama “lost his cool” by expressing passion.

And a third group will complain that the president said “ass” on a morning show. Drudge has already said Obama went “street” with his comments.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.