Friday, June 18, 2010

Rep. Joe Barton And Republican Colleagues Feel BP's Pain

Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) is filled with shame about the oil spill–shame, that is, for what he sees as the mistreatment of BP. He actually apologized to BP chief executive Tony Hayward. He also termed President Obama's call for a $20 billion escrow fund to handle claims of individuals and businesses affected by the spill a "shakedown." Watch:

Barton: I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown.

The oil and gas industry has been quite generous to Barton, giving him $1.4 million since the 1990 election cycle. If the Republicans regain control of the House, Barton would be the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Some Republicans were mortified by the comments of Barton, who apologized for his apology. What the Republicans are really upset about is Barton's candor and the negative PR repercussions.

Barton, after all, isn't the only Republican who feels BP's pain. Consider others mentioned in the video. Governor Haley Barbour (MS) is worried "that this idea of making them make a huge escrow fund is going to make it less likely that they’ll pay for everything." Representative Michele Bachmann (MN) called the escrow account a "redistribution of wealth" and "one more gateway for government control." Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey "questioned whether Obama was misusing his authority in persuading BP to set up the fund." Rep. Tom Price (GA) called the escrow account a "Chicago-style political shakedown." The real shakedown, states the Center for Responsive Politics, is politicians' pursuit of oil and gas industry contributions.

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