From POLITICAL HOTSHEET at CBS NEWS:
BP CEO Tony Hayward [was] in the midst of a harsh grilling today on Capitol Hill, where he [was] testifying House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing on “The Role of BP in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill.”
But not long after the hearing began, Hayward got something not many expected from lawmakers: An apology.
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the committee, apologized to Hayward for what he described as a “shakedown” at the White House yesterday. He was referring to the deal worked out between the Obama administration and BP to set up a $20 billion fund administered by a third party to pay for damages from the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “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.”
He complained that “the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people, [is] participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that’s unprecedented in our nation’s history, that’s got no legal standing, and which sets, I think, a terrible precedent for the future.”
“I apologize,” Barton told Hayward. “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.”
“I’m speaking now totally for myself,” he noted. “I’m not speaking for the Republican Party.” House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) later said he disagreed with Barton’s characterization, and GOP leaders put out a statement calling his comments “wrong.”
Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, has called for Barton to resign as the ranking Republican on the committee, Politico reports.
“I condemn Mr. Barton’s statement,” Miller said. “Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee.”
According to the Associated Press, Barton has taken more than $100,000 in political contributions from oil and gas interests since the beginning of 2009, more than all but one other member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Rep. Ed Markey (D – MA) said at the hearing he “could not disagree more strongly” with Barton’s initial comments.
“Not only is the compensation fund that was created yesterday at the White House in an agreement reached between BP and President Obama not a slush fund and not a shakedown, rather it was the government of the United States worked to protect the most vulnerable citizens that we have in this country right now – the residents of the Gulf,” he said.
“The families of the Gulf will be crushed financially unless this compensation fund is put in place,” said Markey, arguing that the history of Gulf families will be “permanently altered” without action.
Markey added that the creation of the fund reflected “American government working at its best” to ensure that families do not become “roadkill” as a result of corporate practices.
As Markey spoke, Barton leaned back in his chair reading what appeared to be the newspaper Investor’s Business Daily.
From POLITICAL HOTSHEET at CBS NEWS::
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas has offered an apology for his comments this morning apologizing to BP CEO Hayward for what he described as a “shakedown” at the White House to set up a BP-funded $20 billion fund to pay for damages from the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I want to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident,” he said. “And if anything I said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction.”
In a statement he made his apology more explicit.
“I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP,” he said. “…I regret the impact that my statement this morning implied that BP should not pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions in this incident.”
Not good enough for some Rethugs. From The Caucus at The New York Times:
A day after he took awkwardly to center stage on Capitol Hill, Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas is still getting heat from some of his Republican colleagues for sounding too cozy with BP.
On Friday, Representative Jo Bonner – whose Alabama district takes in the Gulf Coast – called for Mr. Barton to step aside as ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
[…] Mr. Bonner […] said that he believed Mr. Barton’s retraction Thursday afternoon was an insincere attempt to save his ranking slot on the committee.
“Joe’s comments were stupid and extremely insensitive to the hundreds of thousands of people who live along the Gulf Coast – many in my district – who are literally watching their way of life be destroyed by this catastrophe,” Mr. Bonner added.
On Thursday, according to news media reports, Mr. Barton was told by Republican leaders in the House that if he didn’t apologize for his comments, he would get the boot as the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
What’s with the South and their names? Jo is a girl’s name, short for Josephine. Would it really be that difficult to add an e to the end to make it Joe, a good manly name. A macho name can really help in the South with a political career. If you don’t believe me, ask Haley Barbour or Lindsey Graham.
And by the way, kids, is it just me, or does Joe Barton remind you of someone, too?
A tip of the hat to Tapestry58 over at the Big Orange for correcting what Porky Joe would say.
And just one more thing–if anything I said has been misconstrued to the opposite effect I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction.