As the bumper sticker up in the Noteworthy box indicates, something pretty remarkable happened yesterday: the House GOP’s leader on energy policy, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, publicly apologized to BP’s CEO for the terrible treatment he’s been receiving from the Obama administration. Barton was particularly aggrieved by the “shakedown” that convinced BP to devote so much of its hard-earned profits to relief and restitution for affected Gulf residents.
Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman of Politico summed up the political impact of Barton’s act of fealty to Big Oil quite well:
It would have been bad enough for the GOP if a backbencher had accidentally strayed wildly off message, but Barton, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is the face of the party on energy policy — and his comments were intentional. So rather than talking about BP’s culpability and the Obama administration’s response, Washington was fixated on a Texas Republican’s seemingly tone-deaf comments.
It appears that Barton was literally dragged into a back room and ordered to retract his apology to BP by House GOP leaders, which, of course, ensured that people who hadn’t heard about the original brouhaha were informed of it. What would be really interesting, however, is to know how many GOP solons privately agreed with Barton’s original comments, and symphathize with BP’s plight as it is demonized by the socialist bully Barack Obama.