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The Shakedown

© Jim Morin

First, Obama meets with BP and gets them to set up a $20 billion fund to help people whose livelihoods were damaged by the Gulf oil spill. Second, Republican Congressman Joe Barton apologizes to BP in a Congressional hearing, saying:

I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private company would be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown. I apologize [for it].

Third, Democrats point out the irony of a Republican apologizing to BP for making them pay for causing what will probably be the largest environmental disaster in US history. They also note that Barton is the largest recipient of campaign money from big oil, and that if Republicans were in control of Congress now, Barton would be in charge of the committee that regulates big oil.

Fourth, even his fellow Republicans throw Barton under the bus. And finally Barton himself issues a non-apology for his apology, saying that his statements were “misconstrued”, saying “I apologize for that misconstruction.”

UPDATE: The Raw Story points out that all those Republicans who are throwing Barton under the bus are also being seriously hypocritical. Just days before Barton’s remarks, 114 members of the Republican caucus signed on to a statement calling the BP fund “Chicago-style shakedown politics”. So when Barton spoke up in Congress, he was only repeating a Republican talking point. And when Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) said “I couldn’t disagree with Joe Barton more. The congressman was only speaking for himself. That was not mainstream Republican thought” he was simply lying through his teeth.

UPDATE 2: As usual, Jon Stewart covers it far better than I ever could: