Thursday, June 17, 2010

Apology for Obama's "Shakedown"

Shame on Rep. Joe Barton!

Everyone watched a congressional subcommittee hearing into the Gulf Coast oil spill with great anticipation. We all expected the star performers would be BP CEO Tony Hayward and other BP executives. Surprise, surprise.

Barely ten minutes into the session, GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stole the show. In his opening remarks, Barton apologized to BP CEO Hayward for the "shakedown" the Obama White House pulled on BP. Barton explained ..I'm ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday.  I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private company can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.  In this case a $20 billion shakedown."  In his wrap up, Barton said: "I apologize.  I do now want to live in a country where anytime 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".

Barton is a staunch conservative with a long record of backing oil industry interest. He has received more than $1.5 million in campaign donations from the oil industry. Individuals and political action committees associated with BP have donated $27,350 to Barton's political campaigns since the 1990 election cycle -- eighth among members of Congress. I guess it's understandable that Barton said:" I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself."

It didn't take long for Republican leaders to distance themselves for Barton's remarks, while some called for Barton's resignation from the committee.  In record breaking time, Barton was apologizing again.  This time the apology was to anyone who "misconstrued" his remarks. He withdrew his apology to BP CEO Hayward, but made no effort to apology to President Barack Obama. After all, what's another slap in the President's face. Shame on you, Joe Burton!

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