View Full Version : Note to Joe Barton - open oil-sucking mouth, insert foot

17th June 10, 03:01 PM
Apology to BP's Hayward triggers uproar

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - A Texas Republican apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward on Thursday for having to set aside $20 billion for Gulf of Mexico damage claims, drawing ridicule from Democrats and embarrassing Republicans.

Representative Joe Barton, a major recipient of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, triggered an uproar with his lengthy apology to Hayward for being the victim of a White House "shakedown."

Barton's point, made at the start of a congressional hearing featuring Hayward's testimony, was that BP (BP.L) (BP.N) should pay for damage claims but should be allowed to follow the "due process and fairness" of the American legal system.

"I'm speaking totally for myself, I'm not speaking for the Republican party ... but I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Barton said.

He called it "a tragedy of the first proportion, that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, a $20 billion shakedown."

President Barack Obama on Wednesday pressured BP to set up a $20 billion compensation fund for the Gulf spill during a meeting at the White House.

As Republicans seek to pick up seats from majority Democrats in November's congressional elections, Barton's position is politically risky because Americans by and large blame BP for the devastating spill and want the huge company to pay for it.

His stance was bound to be unpopular in the Gulf region, where the spill is wreaking havoc on the economy -- fishermen are out of work and hotel and restaurants are losing in an area heavily dependent on tourism.

Barton gave hope to Democrats looking for any way possible to fend off expected big losses in November. They quickly pounced on Barton's remarks.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denounced Barton and called on members of both parties to repudiate his comments.

"What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction," said Gibbs.

Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said: "The American people will hold House Republicans accountable for this shameful defense of BP, and for once again siding with Big Oil and gas interests."

Republicans on Capitol Hill were chagrined by Barton's statement and the leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, John Boehner, distanced himself from Barton.

"BP agreed to fund the cost of this cleanup from the beginning and I'm glad they are being held accountable," Boehner said. Asked if he disagreed with Barton's remarks, Boehner said: "I do."

Barton stuck to his position. "I just think it is very un-American to have the president of the United States demand $20 billion and have a company agree without being able to exercise all its rights under our system of laws and precedents," he told Reuters.


Barton is not alone among Republicans holding this view.

Georgia Republican Representative Tom Price, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House members, issued a statement arguing the same point.

He said the White House does not have the legal authority to compel a private company to set up and fund an escrow account. The White House has dismissed such criticism.

Price said BP's willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama administration is "hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics."

"These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this administration's drive for greater power and control," Price said.

And former Texas Republican Representative Dick Armey, who was House majority leader and is a leading voice in the conservative Tea Party movement, told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast this week that Obama lacks the constitutional authority to set up such a fund.

"The Constitution doesn't give that authority to the executive branch.... There are courts for this purpose," Armey said, according to the Dallas Morning News.

In addition, conservative Republican Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was quoted as telling the Heritage Foundation think tank on Tuesday that the escrow account was a "redistribution-of-wealth fund."

Barton is the biggest recipient of oil and gas industry campaign contributions in the House of Representatives, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Its data showed that Barton has collected $1,447,880 from political action committees and individuals connected with the oil and gas industry since 1989.


Thank you, Republicans, for showing what dumb-asses most of you are. Why the hell shouldn't BP pay for everything that THEY CAUSED? Yes, let's instead let them go through the legal system and tie everything up in claims courts for the next 20 years. That's probably going to happen the way it is now anyway.

Hedley LaMarr
17th June 10, 03:56 PM
I really hope that these politicians are just angling for more donations from the oil industry.

I was watching the hearings earlier today while watching Hayward's testimony: if he isn't a citizen of the US, does the 5th Amendment apply to him? Does he have any rights? Can we take him to Guantanamo and use creative interrogation techniques on him?

18th June 10, 05:15 PM
BP will line up for bailout money at some point. Wait for it.