Opposites: On the right, Joe Barton, ranking Republican on Energy & Commerce and Chairman Henry Waxman
There's been a lot written about Republican Joe Barton's apology to BP. Here at Redstate and all over the media, people have been talking about what Barton said or should have said. A lot of the comments have been plain wrong about what Barton said and of course there have been a lot of flat out partisan lies.
While the video of the Barton statement is readily available, no where could I find the actual text of his original statement. But giddy Democrats and their promoters were anxious to tell everyone what Barton said and what it meant. The Donks were real quick on the draw with a propaganda video that said the apology was proof that the Republican party is owned by the big oil polluters. The Democrat level of excitement and their hyperbole about the Barton mess is proof-certain of how worried they are about their electoral prospects in November.
I have provided below the text of Barton's statements, with emphasis added where I think it should be. The first ninety seconds were left out because they have no relevance to the apology. The apology as you will see made up a very small portion of Barton's remarks and came after Barton said BP cut corners on safety and is liable for damages.
I am speaking totally now for myself. I am not speaking for the Republican party. I am not speaking for anybody in the House of Representative but myself.
I am ashamed of what happened yesterday in the Whitehouse. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation could be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown-in this case a 20 billion dollar 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 dollar slush fund.
This is unprecedented in our nation's history. It has no legal authority- which sets a terrible precedent for our country. If I called you into my office and I had the Subcommittee Chair, Mr. Stupak with me, who was legitimately conducting an oversight investigation on your company and said if you put so many millions of dollars into a project in my congressional district, I could go to jail . . . and should go to jail.
Now, there is no question that British Petroleum owns this lease. There is no question that British Petroleum, that BP- I'm sorry it's not British Petroleum any more- has made decisions that objective people think compromised safety. There is no question BP is liable for the damages but we have a due process system where we go through hearings and sometimes court cases- litigation to determine what the damages are and when the damages should be paid.
So, I am only speaking for myself. I am not speaking for anybody else. But I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any citizen or 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.
But on this hearing today I am with Mr. Waxman. I'm, with Mr. Stupak. There are questions that need to be asked that are legitimate because we don't want another oil spill of this magnitude or any magnituded in the Gulf of Mexico. And if this Subcommittee can do things that make it much more difficult for this type of incident to occur in the future, then we will have done our work for the American people. And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
If one looks at the actual text of the Barton statement, it seems that this was not some spur of the moment, shoot from the hip statement. Barton made it clear what happened in the Whitehouse was not legal and if he, as the minority ranking member of the committee had done the same thing, such actions by him would also be illegal.
Something else about this whole episode is troubling. In a hearing of this magnitude, with passions enflamed, would not Barton's remarks as the ranking Republican on Energy and Commerce have been vetted by Minority Leader Boehner or at least his staff? I'm just asking and if this went though Boehnor's office, how should we feel about it?
Finally, for those of you who think Barton is road-kill because of this episode, he will be re-elected in November. Barring something much worse than this apology blowup, Texas CD 6 will send him back to Congress. While some have opined he is "old news" I would wager Barton has a better chance of being Chairman of Energy and Commerce in 2011 than Boehner has of being promoted to Speaker. It's Boehner who is old news and can't lead. A big herd of new Republicans next year will be looking to dump the overtanned, empty suit from Ohio.