U.S. Rep. Joe Barton

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton

When we started this register of the offensively clownish behavior of so many of our most powerful legislators, the only claim to fame we knew of for the Texan Republican Joe Barton was that he was generally considered the most successful member of Senate or House of Representatives at collecting money from the oil companies. But then, on June 17th, the CEO of British Petroleum, Tony Hayward, was called to account for the BP disaster in the Gulf by high-ranking American Congressmen. Hayward explained that, although he was BP’s top executive, he really didn’t know anything about what his corporation had been doing in the Gulf. This drew scorn from most of the legislators, but when it came Barton’s turn he took a completely different tack.

His first words to Hayward were, “I apologize.” He went on to clarify his remarks by saying, “I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a 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.”

Not everyone could successfully untangle Barton’s syntax, but no one failed to understand that an American official was offering an apology to the man in charge of the company that had delivered the most damaging blow to American interests since the destruction of the World Trade Center. Suddenly Barton had no friends left. Even the leaders of his own party were demanding he retract his remarks, so the next day he apologized to the world for his apology to British Petroleum.

By the way, although Barton was the chief beneficiary of BP’s scattering cash, he was by no means the only one. It has been said that there is hardly a judge or a legislator in the states around the Gulf of Mexico that hasn’t taken money from Big Oil — which perhaps explains something about how the oil companies got away with watering down government regulations and even, in the George W. Bush days, letting the oil companies rewrite them.


  1. TJIC says:

    > but no one failed to understand that an American official was offering an apology

    Yes, but it’s worth considering WHAT he was offering an apology for…and the thing that he was apologizing for was the way that Congress and the President routinely flout the rule of law and politicize things that are already fully covered under existing policies.

    Why, exactly, was Hayward called to testify before Congress? So that Congressmen could score political points. There was no legitimate fact-finding to be done.

    Why did Obama push for Hayward to create a escrow fund, instead of just using the normal laws for torts? Again, for political purposes.

    What legal authority did Obama use to force the creation of the escrow fun? None, what-so-ever; it was an extralegal maneuver, premised on nothing other than the threat of force if Hayward did not comply.

    > to the man in charge of the company that had delivered the most damaging blow to American interests since the destruction of the World Trade Center

    I think that Barney Frank, architect of the sub-prime lending crisis wins that award by a country mile.

    The BP oil spill is already capped. The housing and economic crash that Barney Frank (D-MA) architected is still going strong.

  2. Stefan Jones says:

    Yeah, you can’t help but admire Frank’s sheer diabolical skill at making it seem like lenders, mortgage brokers, rating agencies and investment firms were gleefully leaping into the mess for quick bucks.

    And man, the way he inserted language glorifying and supporting “minority homeownership” and encouraging no down payment loans into the GOP platform throughout the 2000s . . . he must indeed be an evil mastermind!

    Thank goodness we have libertarian fan-boys to point out where the blame really lies.

  3. jsallison says:

    Let us not forget the Right Honorable Senator Dodd (D-CN). Now to wash out my mouth with cheap bourbon to get *that* taste out.

  4. Jim says:

    Get a grip on reality.
    No legitimate fact-finding when BP had regularly been understating the extent of the problem
    No need for an independent escrow fund while BP dragged it’s feet in making payments and the courts would take years while the victims went bankrupt.
    Barney Frank is the architect of the crisis – did he invent the derivative mess?

    Just keep drinking that Fox news cool aide.

  5. Richard Fletcher says:

    Just a minor point, but over here in Britain we’re getting a little annoyed by it still being called “British Petroleum”. It changed it’s name to BP mainly because there’s not much British about BP.

    I refer you to: http://hubpages.com/hub/British-Petroleum-Ownership-Who-Owns-BP

    Also, there are probably lessons to be taken from the Nigerian oil spills…


    Of course Nigeria is not the US, but it shows something about attitude I think.

  6. Paul Riddell says:

    I’m actually very relieved to say that Mr. Barton isn’t my US Representative, although I’ve had some of the worst that the House has ever had to offer from Texas. (I’m still recovering from the scars from Dick Armey, and I’m very glad his son Scott was beaten like the family mule when he ran for his father’s slot.) That said, those of us in purple areas of the state are very familiar with Barton’s lips’ firm attachment to the phalluses of oil industry execs. (This, honestly, was minor compared to his temper tantrum in 2006, when the GOP lost its majority and Barton lost his chairmanship of the Energy Committee. Not only was he an incredibly sullen sore loser, throwing fits about having to step down, but he did everything in his power to delay having to vacate his office for the new chairman. The last I’d heard, he actually had to be vacated by Capitol security because he still felt he deserved to be in charge no matter what the rest of Congress may have decided.)

    As I said, we’re quite familiar with him, and his ability to squeak into re-election every two years is purely due to his oil company connections. Even diehard longtime Republicans in his district, dating from the days when everybody in Texas was a Democrat, are openly considering switching parties to get his inbred carcass out of his seat. I suspect his incessant op/ed columns in the Dallas Morning News have a lot to do with it: why is it that the Congresscritters most dedicated to allowing creationism in public schools always look so…simian?