A Thank You Note to Joe Barton
June 17, 2010
Thank God for Joe Barton (R-Texas). Tuesday night, Barack Obama gave a speech on the BP-Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster that I would generously call uninspiring. Yes, he spoke of the need for new alternative energy sources that could, at long last, wean America from its dangerous and environmentally catastrophic dependence on fossil fuels. But he didn’t do much else, and he certainly didn’t lay out a strong, definite plan for achieving his goals. Everyone from Jon Stewart to Fox News gave the speech bad reviews, and for a day or two that’s what people were talking about. The only thing the President did manage to do was convince British Petroleum to set up a $20 billion escrow account to help people in the Gulf region recover from the economic effects of the spill. By Wednesday morning, that seemed like a small accomplishment.
But then Congressman Barton, in his opening remarks at a Congressional hearing on the Gulf spill, actually apologized to BP for what the White House had done. Here are his remarks:
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. It is unprecedented in our nation’s history.
Never mind that BP has destroyed the Gulf economy for years to come. Never mind that the company’s spokesmen have at least paid lip service to doing exactly what this fund is intended to facilitate, i.e. compensating people for their losses. Never mind that BP is now more hated than any governmental institution or corporate entity. Joe is ready to defend them, and to accuse the White House of “shaking them down.” Talk about a political tin ear. But wait, it gets better. What makes this statement even more outrageous is that Texas Joe has received more campaign money from big oil since 1989 — some $1.4 million and counting — than any other member of Congress. Who says money can’t buy you love…?
With one opening statement, Barton made the White House look strong in its treatment of BP, sympathetic to the people of the Gulf region, and sensitive to the public’s outrage at BP. And he reminded everyone, as had Rand Paul and Sarah Palin before him, that Republicans will come to the defense of the world’s largest oil corportations no matter what they do and whose lives they destroy.
So on behalf of the President and Democrats everywhere, I just want to say, “Thank, Joe.”