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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Barton’s Grovel, GOP’s Emblematic Moment

The bumper sticker above says it well, Big Oil’s Republican toady in the House of Reps could well become the next chairman of the House Committee charged with preventing horrific oil spills. Rep. Barton’s groveling was disgusting enough, punctuated as it was by his ridiculous retraction, which should indicate to his alert constituents that his principles are somewhat flaccid, to put it charitably. According to OpenSecrets.org, Barton received more dough from Oil and gas companies during the entire 1989-2010 election cycle than all other members of the House of Reps. (For an amusing graphic take on the sorry episode, check out Mike Luckovitch’s cartoon here).
In my decades of watching party politics, I don’t recall a more emblematic moment for the GOP. This is who they too often are — groveling lackeys for Big Oil in particular and Big Business in general, even though it insults the families of the workers who were killed in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the thousands who have lost their livelihood and turns a blind eye toward the massive destruction of wildlife and our natural heritage. That they tried to wash it away with a half-assed apology was predictable. Most Republicans are pretty clever about hiding their worst impulses, when corporate abuse becomes a major controversy — we don’t hear much from Dick Cheney, for example, on this topic. But every now and then the cover is inadvertently lifted.
Barton may get re-elected despite his screw-up, and he may or may not be removed from his ranking position as chair-in-waiting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But If thoughtful voters, not just in Barton’s district, but in every House district in the U.S., needed a clinching argument to vote Democratic in November, Barton has provided it.

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