TRUE COLORS: Republicans Feel Sorry For BP


WASHINGTON POST: At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the $20 billion “shakedown” the oil company received from President Obama. “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or corporation does anything wrong,” they are subjected to such political pressure. MORE

WHITE HOUSE: “What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the bp-viet-cong.thumbnail.jpgfishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction. Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy’, but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now. Members from both parties should repudiate his comments.”

TALKING POINTS MEMO: What actually has me curious is when this gets back around to the House Republican Study Committee, which is essentially the right-wing or Movement conservative caucus within the House GOP, and a very big deal. Everybody’s reacting to Barton’s statement. But the HRS put out a pretty much identical statement yesterday about the Escrow account and President Obama yesterday. And more than a hundred members of the House Republican caucus belong to that group. That makes it much more of a Republican position than what Barton said. MORE

SALON: But where, exactly, did Barton come up with the idea that the White House was way out of line in pressuring BP to create the escrowbp-viet-cong.thumbnail.jpg fund? He got it from party leadership. The Republican Study Committee — the influential conservative caucus that the vast majority of Republican congressmen belong to — put out a release yesterday calling the creation of the fun “Chicago-style shakedown politics.” Barton is an oil industry stooge, yes, but he was just repeating a talking point dreamed up by the conservative leaders in his party. He didn’t go rogue. MORE

JOE CONASON: Haley Barbour too has behaved like an abject servant of the oil bidness for his entire public career — and he has seen no reason to change just because an endless tide of sludge is washing up on the shores of the state he misgoverns. From the beginning of the disaster, Barbour has tried to minimize the effects of the spill and make excuses for BP, but he has outdone himself in a fit of indignation over the escrow fund. According to him, it will make full restitution to the Gulf’s beleaguered workers, fishermen and business owners less likely, because it will reduce the profits BP needs to pay out damages. Of course, if $20 billion is already in escrow, then the injured parties need not worry about where the money will come from. But don’t try to make sense of Barbour’s argument, because you can’t.bp-viet-cong.thumbnail.jpg Then there is Michele Bachmann, who represents a district in Minnesota and therefore cannot be excused for standing up on behalf of a regional economic interest. To her, the escrow fund represents a scheme for “redistribution” of wealth — as if the people who will receive money from it are undeserving welfare recipients and as if BP had done nothing to injure them. She derided the BP executives who will pay into the escrow account as “chumps.” MORE

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