WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Monday he's been talking closely to Gulf Coast fishermen and various experts on BP's catastrophic oil spill not for lofty academic reasons but "so I know whose ass to kick." The salty words, part of Obama's recent efforts to telegraph to Americans his engagement with the crisis, came in an interview in Michigan with NBC's "Today" show. He strongly defended his role in dealing with the crisis that began with the April 20 explosion on a BP-leased oil rig in the Gulf, killing 11 workers and starting the nation's largest-ever oil spill. Some have criticized the president for not engaging passionately enough on the spill, even though he's been to the Gulf coast three times since the disaster, his most recent visit on Friday. Obama said he has talked to a variety of "experts" on the oil spill in addition to the fishermen.