The face of the GOP: Republican Rep. Joe Barton Backpedals From Apology to BP
At the House Energy and Commerce hearing on the gulf spill, Representative Joe L. Barton, seated right, called a $20 billion fund a White House “shakedown.”
From The New York Times:
Representative Joe L. Barton had to be truly sorry by the time he apologized for his apology on Thursday.
In the four hours between his televised apology to BP — for what he called a $20 billion “shakedown” by President Obama for loss claims in the gulf oil spill — and his apology for that apology, Mr. Barton, a Republican from Texas, had been pummeled in the blogosphere, assailed by Democratic Party operatives and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and, in the blow that landed, threatened by Republican leaders with being yanked from the party’s top seat on the powerful House energy committee.
“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Mr. Barton said in his opening statement. “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.”
Democrats, smelling blood in an election year, sought to make Mr. Barton an exemplar for Republican ties to “Big Oil.” House Republican leaders, fearing that trap, rushed to contain the damage.
Of the five Gulf Coast states, Mr. Barton’s Texas is the only one whose beaches, fisheries and tourist haunts are not threatened by oil spewing from BP’s ruined well. Republican lawmakers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida quickly disavowed Mr. Barton’s apology to BP, and one was the first to call for stripping Mr. Barton of his committee seat.