Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward on Thursday morning for the "political pressure" his company is facing.Aww, the poor babies can't handle the truth.
Barton condemned the White House's handling of a meeting Wednesday with BP officials, in which President Barack Obama pushed the company to create a $20 billion escrow account for damage claims from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The congressman called the account a "slush fund."
The statement drew a rare and forceful denunciation from the White House.
Barton made the remarks at a House Energy and Commerce committee hearing that is ongoing. Hayward is before the committee to testify about his company’s handling of spill.
"I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday," said Barton, the top Republican on the committee. "It is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown – in this case a $20 billion shakedown."
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said he could "not disagree more strongly" with Barton’s statement.
"This is not a shakedown," Markey said. "This is the American government and President Obama ensuring that this company is held accountable…In my opinion, this is the American government working at its best."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on other members of Congress to repudiate Barton.
John Boehner is weak in the knees, naturally.
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Update: Assorted fallout via Memeorandum. Ironic how it took Obama eight weeks and about eight rounds of golf before he addressed the spill to a national audience and about five minutes for the White House to react to Barton.
Update: Even more fallout. Barton walks it all back. More here.