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Rahm Emanuel: Joe Barton's Apology to BP Is a 'Gift' to Democrats

3 years ago
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Even though he tried to take it back, Texas GOP Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP has become what is known in politics and other pursuits as the "gift that keeps on giving," and the latest round came on Sunday's news programs where Democrats made the most of it and Republicans did their best to contain the damage.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was happy to keep the story going on ABC's "This Week" when asked if he had agreed with calls by Democrats and others to remove Barton from his post as ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"That's for the Republicans to decide," Emanuel said. "What I think is more important, you can say it's a political gift for us, and it is. But it's dangerous for the American people, because while the ranking Republican would have oversight into the energy industry, and if the Republicans were the majority, would have actually the gavel and the chairmanship."

On Thursday, with embattled BP chief executive Tony Hayward appearing before the committee, Barton stunned even fellow Republicans when he said of BP's agreement Wednesday to Obama's demand for a gulf-cleanup escrow fund: "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House. 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."

Joe Barton"That's not a political gaffe," Emanuel said. "Those were prepared remarks. That is a philosophy. That is an approach to what they see. They see the aggrieved party here is BP, not the fishermen."

Emanuel added for good measure: "And remember, this is not just one person. Rand Paul, running for Senate in Kentucky, what did he say? He said the way BP was being treated was un-American."

Paul had said on ABC's "Good Morning America" last month that "what I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."

Several administration officials, including Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, have used the "boot on the throat of BP" quote.

On CBS' "Face the Nation," Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) chimed in: "I want to say about Barton's comment, that it's illustrative that the oil industry has ruled the roost. And in part, they still do."

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" about Democratic charges that Republicans cared more about oil companies than the environment, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "That's nonsense. I couldn't disagree with Joe Barton more. BP doesn't need an apology. They need to apologize to us, and they certainly need to cover all the costs of the cleanup and the economic damages as well. And they're going to."

He added, "I think it's important to remember the president of the United States, I believe, is the biggest recipient of BP political contributions when he ran."

The Center for Responsive Politics said that Obama's 2008 campaign received $71,000 in contributions from BP-related sources, making him the top recipient.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said on CBS that Barton's statement was "dumb" and that the need for an apology was all in BP's court because the spill was "a man-made incident, a big mistake. They tried to do it on the cheap, I believe, made some shortcuts, and they paid for it, and now we pay for it."

"The congressman only spoke for himself," Shelby said. "That is not mainstream Republican thought."

Shelby added, " I would invite Congressman Barton, if he hadn't been to the gulf and also senator, I mean, Congressman Paul or his son, to come down here and see what's happening."
Filed Under: Environment, Energy, Oil Spill

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dc walker

The President can stop 30,000 rigs from pumping oil in the Gulf?? Can he file suit against your state's laws? Can he take over your auto dealerships? Can he tell you to buy insurance? Can he allow elected officials to bribe other elected officials? Can he tell foreign heads of state to go to hell? Hasn't he already??

June 22 2010 at 5:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
gtheel

Even before BP , if we go back to who exactly is 100% responsible for these rigs drilling in mile deep and deeper water, we can only blame the Liberal minority in this country.

June 22 2010 at 3:24 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
gtheel

The Federal judge lifting Obomas ban on drilling which was not within his limited power to do to begin with...is a gift for the economy on the Gulf that can now continue making a living.

June 22 2010 at 3:19 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
p3452

What the heck was he thinking. Apologizing to a company that is ruining the ecology, putting people out of work and out of business. Let us all remember this at election time.

June 21 2010 at 1:40 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
sheldend

The United States is heading toward having its own DEAD SEA (only worse)and all we can do is argue politics. Shame on us all and may God forgive us.

June 21 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
wolfsonnydiane

Funny how republicans had no problem with us violating international and our own laws to supposedly protect americans But is upset that our pressident might have used strong aggressive negotiating tactics to help protect americsns. Seams their statements appear a bit hippocritical

June 21 2010 at 12:54 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
ettu

There comes a time when the Hard Right and Hard Left legilators in our state and federal governments need to sit down and shut up. I consider myself a Right leaning moderate. I considered Michelle Bachman a much needed counterbalance to Al Franken, I would consider Barton an offset to, say, Reid or Pelosi or Biden, from the "foot in mouth" crowd.

These people often take a whacko stance on issues, when what is needed is moderation and teamwork to resolve crises confronting our Country. They need to put off their minority supported opinions until such time as the big issues have been resolved, and people have the time and tolerance to sit back and be amused, or bemused, by their proposals. I believe all of them are sincere in their beliefs, they are just too far out to benefit the greater good.

June 21 2010 at 12:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ettu's comment
nbk4real

Well you have faith that I do not possess. I do not believe that guys like Barton are sincere nor do I think people like Palin or Bachman are. I believe they do nothing but incite people to be angry about issues that they themselves are part and parcel to, and most of the time its for money or for a corporation. I do not see the hypcrisy out of Pelosi, Reed or Biden that I see out of these extremists and its not a fair comparison at all. I equate that to those that would try to compare Katrina to the BP disastor. Bottom line is one side stands with common working men and women, the other stands with corporations like BP. Reed, Pelosi nor Biden are responsible for the de-regulation of the banking industry or off shore drilling.

June 21 2010 at 12:21 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
crownsplitta

The reality of it is, if Americans knew who de-regulated the off shore drilling, who dropped safety standards and who allowed the MMS to become so corrupt that it created an enviorment that allowed this to happen would be more of a gift to the Democrats than Bartons comments. As telling and transparent as they are. And we all need to remember that BP is part and parcel to the corrupting of the MMS just as are the others. None are without blame. And Barton is not an exception either, hes the rule for those that put big oil and their profits in front of the safety and well being of OUR natural resources and our people.

June 21 2010 at 10:20 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
nbk4real

That is just one of the many reasons Americans are waking up to the reality of the root causes of this accident. Deregulation, no over sight, corruption, the dropping of safety standards. If we really want to know the root causes of this accident just go back to Cheneys secret energy meetings. Lets all ask the Supreme Court why they didnt think a meeting between Cheney, lobbyists and energy Corporations such as BP and the others matters to us the American people. And how is a meeting with a public servant NOT our information?

June 21 2010 at 4:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
newdadgary

As an owner of a vacation rental business that is now virtually dead in Florida(and we dont even have any oil in Tampa), I chalk it up to a "What was he thinking moment". But Sen. Shelby make a good point, and perhaps we need to take it a step further: Have them all come down to the Gulf Coast to witness firsthand the devestation that is taking place. Perhaps that might stop comments such as this from happening.
I also invite a beginning conversation NOW on some type of tax relief as I and many others that have been providing accommodations to all Americans and others worldwide for years and rely on vacationers to pay taxes on our properties, which also generated state and local taxes, or at least did up till now. So, do I just lose my business I've owned for 20 years because of this spill and say oh well? The banks made foolish loans, and they got bailed out. I did nothing but own a business that depends on tourism, a spill happened by a company not related to me or my business, and to the best of my knowledge will not get assistance from BP as we are a land based business. This truly is going to affect everyone in some way or another. A handout is not what I want. I want my business I've worked very hard for back. Period. ANY suggestions would be of great assistance. Thank you for letting me vent. I don't believe I have violated any rules of the new system, I have attacked no-one and have tried to have people start to look into the future regarding this situation as it apparently will be going on for some time come. GD

June 21 2010 at 1:54 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

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