By Charles Langley - I rarely call politicians and ask them to resign, but I did so this morning after learning that the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton of Texas "apologized" to British Petroleum's CEO Tony Hayward for the way his company has been treated by the Obama Administration.
(Editor's Note: We posted an update on Joe Barton's pandering to Big Energy on August 24, 2010)
Barton, who according to opensecrets.org, has received more than $262,000.00 in donations from energy PACs, called BP's voluntary agreement to put $20 billion in a compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims a "shakedown" saying "I'm ashamed of what happened."
Barton was obviously trolling for future campaign donations. Nothing else could explain his craven, cowardly, and quite frankly greed-laced statement to Tony Hayward other than the fact that Barton is an obvious tool for the energy lobby. If you question this, then watch the video.
Even more revolting is that on April 29, 2004, Barton touted the safety and environmental responsibility of deep water drilling operations at a meeting of the Committee he chairs, saying that the rigs are able to operate "... 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; all without so much as losing a gum wrapper over the side of the platform."
It is probably true: millions of gum wrappers have not soiled the Gulf of Mexico as a result of deep water drilling. Unfortunately, millions of gallons of oil have.
Earlier today the Republican leadership issued an apology for Barton's apology. Now, according to the Washington Post, Republican leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor have told Barton privately that "if he screws up again, he'll lose his slot as ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee."
If he screws up again?
Why give him the chance? Barton wasn't representing the American people or his constituents today, he was representing the oil industry that helped get him elected as Chairman of the Energy Committee. Obviously Barton is good at sucking up to people in power, and he is probably sucking up to Boehner and Cantor as this blog is being written. But that's no reason to allow him to continue. Barton has clearly demonstrated that he is not capable of representing the American people in his capacity as Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He must resign.*
* Note: Joe Barton remains as Ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee - this, after it was revealed by researchers accessing www.opensecrets.org, that Mr. Barton has accepted more than $4 million in campaign contributions from big energy companies since 1990. It should be noted that 21 years after the Exxon Valdez spill, Alaska's coastline is still foul with oil. What's more, Exxon dragged out the litigation for 20 years. After lengthy appeals, damages that were estimated at $5 billion were slashed to $500 million, with the fisherman plaintiffs each getting an average of $15,000 each.
On June 25, the author of this blog received the following statement via e-mail from Congressman Duncan Hunter explaining that the the Republican Party has not ousted Barton because he said he was sorry. This is a direct quote from the e-mail:
"As you are aware, Congressman Barton has retracted his remarks that the White House's handling of the BP trust fund was a "shakedown" and he has also retracted his initial apology to BP. I believe Rep. Barton's apology was appropriate and I am hopeful that as oil continues to gush into the Gulf Coast, two months after the initial incident, we remain focused on resolving this environmental disaster as quickly as possible. "