Earth to Joe Barton...Earth to Joe Barton. Congressman are you there somewhere in outer space? What the heck were you thinking?
The Texas GOP Congressman apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward today at a House hearing on the Hill. Apologize?? To BP??? Joe, what are you trying to do? Are you trying to give Alvin Greene a run for his money in the most bizarre story category?
Here is what Rep. Barton said:
Rep. Joe Barton: “I’m speaking this totally for myself. I’m not speaking for the Republican Party. I’m not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, 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, with 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, 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, I terrible precedent for the future.”...
"There is no question that BP is liable for the damages, but we have a due process system,"..."I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize."
Joe, just curious: Are you a Democratic plant because you just gave the Democrats one of the best talking points against your party since the horse and buggy days! Like the Republicans don't already have an image problem with big business! How quick can Democrats get out the “Thank You Cards” to this guy? How about the one below?
It wouldn’t 'surprise me if Republican leadership is collectively checking into a group therapy session as we speak. Look, go ahead and argue the merits of what Barton said in a political science class or in some debate hall but when you look up the words "politically tone deaf" in the dictionary, I believe Webster’s will now insert this quote with Barton's picture. Oy-gevalt!
More from Newsweek below:
Regardless of what he actually meant, GOP Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward this morning has sent his party into crisis mode. Republican and Democratic leaders have fallen over themselves to repudiate BP’s arrogant comments and at times sluggish response. But Barton’s lament that the White House partook in a “shakedown” of BP during a Roosevelt Room meeting yesterday seems to significantly change the debate.
The comments struck reporters in the room as odd. There was nothing for Barton to gain by publicly bowing to Hayward, nor did BP gain any measurable good will from the acknowledgement that it may have been bullied by Obama. Instead, says a Republican staffer, “there was almost an instant admission that what he said could turn into a huge problem.”
This staffer’s instinct was right. Sensing blood in the water, the White House quickly shot a statement to reporters, calling Barton’s comments “shameful” and hammering Barton on the fact that Gulf fisherman and small business owners are more worthy of an apology. “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,” said Robert Gibbs in a style, noted Politico’s Ben Smith, very reminiscent of how the Obama campaign used to shoot back at Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
Democratic rapid response shops knew instantly, according to one aide, that this could be their moment to win the higher ground on energy legislation, if only they could tie Barton’s comments to his entire party. “Republicans have made a very costly mistake with their shameful defense of BP and their continued loyalty to their financial backers from Big Oil,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee press secretary Ryan Rudominer told NEWSWEEK. Then, he said, the DCCC would be putting out press releases later today in districts of all House Republicans on this topic.
Update: Rep Barton is backtracking from the comments: Now he says:
Rep. Joe Barton: “I want the record to be absolutely clear that I believe BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way possible make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident. If anything I’ve said this morning was misconstrued from that I want to apologize for that misconstruction.”
Hard to put the Genie back in the bottle Joe. I believe Joe will be making an appearance on the following TV Show: