Thursday, June 17, 2010

Joe Barton is ashamed, and he should be!

The face of big oil: Rep Joe Barton (R) Tx

Yahoo News
June 17, 2010
Brett Michael Dykes

Rep. Barton apologizes to BP for Obama 'shakedown'

Well, that was fast. Barely 10 minutes into Thursday's landmark congressional testimony — where BP CEO Tony Hayward and other leading company executives are revisiting the Gulf Coast oil spill before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — the first controversial statement has entered the record.

And no, it didn't come from the gaffe-prone BP brass. Instead, GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the ranking member on the House Energy Committee, made a decisive splash in his opening remarks (from which Republican leaders immediately began distancing themselves). A staunch conservative who has a long record of backing oil industry interests, Barton apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the "shakedown" the Obama White House pulled on the company. (Barton has received more than $1.5 million in campaign donations from the oil industry, according to Open Secrets, a nonpartisan watchdog group.)

"I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself," Barton explained, "but 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."

Wrapping up, Barton said: "I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words — amounts to a shakedown, so I apologize."

As Sam Stein of the Huffington Post points out, this isn't the first time that Barton has shown conspicuous deference to the interests of offshore oil drillers in deepwater. At a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Air Quality in 2004, Barton announced that "Offshore drilling and productions platforms are so technologically advanced that one platform on the surface of the water can handle production from several different wells several miles apart, house a myriad of technologically advances computer systems, enable people to face and conquer the adversities of living in the middle of the ocean, and do so for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all without losing so much as losing a gum wrapper over the side of the platform. It is truly amazing."

— Brett Michael Dykes is a national affairs writer for Yahoo! News.

Personal Comment: Joe Barton is ashamed, and he should be, for his comments in support of BP! I wonder how his comments are going over with people living on the Gulf Coast? I wouldn’t want to be anyone on his staff trying to explain his remarks.

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