June 20th, 2010
02:43 PM ET
8 years ago

Democrats continue hammering GOP over Barton apology to BP

'In case you forgot what Republican governance is like, Joe Barton reminded you,' top Obama aide Rahm Emanuel said of the embattled Texas Republican, pictured, in an interview that aired Sunday.

'In case you forgot what Republican governance is like, Joe Barton reminded you,' top Obama aide Rahm Emanuel said of the embattled Texas Republican, pictured, in an interview that aired Sunday.

Washington (CNN) - A top Democrat kept up the Joe Barton drumbeat Sunday, saying the Republican legislator's defense of BP last week was an example of GOP ideology that favors big business.

Republicans seeking to change the subject countered that the nation's focus should be on efforts to stop the Gulf oil gusher and critcized the Obama administration for failing to make that happen.

The statement last Thursday by Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas - which was quickly retracted under pressure from House GOP leadership - provided Democrats an opportunity to deflect growing public disenchantment with how the government was responding to the oil disaster.

Acknowledging the political gift handed to his party by Barton, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the ABC program "This Week" that Barton's comment and other pro-BP statements by Republicans including Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul would be a factor in the November congressional elections.

"In case you forgot what Republican governance is like, Joe Barton reminded you," Emanuel said, calling Barton's comments a "philosophy" that considered BP the "aggrieved party" instead of the oil giant responsible for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

"These aren't political gaffes - Joe Barton was speaking from prepared remarks," Emanuel said, calling the comment reflective of a GOP approach that considers the government to be the problem, not BP.

However, a statement later Sunday from the House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans said Barton spoke off the cuff. The statement included what it said were his prepared remarks, which made no mention of an apology to BP or criticism of the fund the company created to pay for damages from the oil

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of oil-rich Alaska also challenged Emanuel's comments, telling the CNN program "State of the Union" that the White House chief of staff was wrong.

Updated: 2:43 p.m.

Full story

Filed under: Energy • GOP • Joe Barton • Lisa Murkowski • Rahm Emanuel • State of the Union
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Rob Stumpf

    Barton was right. No one wants to actually live in a country where the President can just strong arm private industry into doing anything he wants. Our President is not Hugo Chavez. Any suggestion that BP should not have to pay is nonsense, but we have courts to make decisions like that.

    June 20, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    The GObP and tea-bagger parties have shown their loyalty to big corporations, and it cannot be emphasized too much.

    Hammer away dems.

    June 20, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Joe

    Barton is the stooge of Big Oil (check his campaign contributions!) and as such emblematic the way the Republicans have for years allowed Big Oil to do what it wants when it wants. We are now paying the price big time for the failure to regulate Big Oil and Barton and his party are largely to blame for this. I hope the Dems will keep on his butt and make him the poster child for the Republican coziness with Big Oil.

    June 20, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Joe Barton should also use his position in congress to immediately apologize to the Taliban...and apologize to Al Queda for having our buildings right in the way of their stolen airliners. He could apologize to the Japanese for Pearl Harbor and truly endear himself to America. He and Sarah Palin...who endorses what he did, could start an appology tour....then quit in the middle...

    June 20, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. American Patriot

    It was a prepared statement...I would like to apologized for voting Republican in the past. It will NEVER happen again.

    June 20, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Barton looks hung over - check out the red eyes - must have partied hard with the BP execs the night before.

    June 20, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Aaron

    Murkowski might as well be labelled the oil companies' rep in Congress....at least their main one. She has been vehement in opposing lifting the 75 million liability cap...it doesn't take a lot of imagination to guess why. I can't say that Obama has handled the Gulf disaster optimally, but he did manage to shakedown BP for $20 billion to cover the damages BP caused. If it's considered a shakedown, that's fine. If he hadn't, those who have suffered due to BP's actions would have absolutely no chance of recourse. The taxpayers had to pick up a large part of the tab on Exxon Valdez, with Exxon paying a $5 million fine almost 20 years after the fact....pocket change for them. The Repubs are paying lip service after the cat ws out of the bag since they obviously care only for the rich and trickle-down theories to help out anyone who's not rich. Maybe they'll sing a different tune with some honesty once rich people's property values on the Gulf start plummeting.

    June 20, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Too bad he won't apologize to America for how his party has led us to financial ruin over the last 10 years...Notice how we are told what great plans the Republicans have....until they FAIL and we all pay a heavy price. How's that trickle down oil policy workin for ya...wink...

    June 20, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Keith in Austin

    Barton's comments were meant to convey his feelings against Obama and his unquenchible desire to control big business and the private sector. Nothing more! Rahm, and his band of Democrat thugs are grandstanding as usual for political gain only! Why don't they all concentrate on stopping the leak and cleaning up the Gulf instead? Enough said!

    June 20, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    Of all big oil contributions, 66% went to republicans.

    Barton's take of that was $1.4 million over the years, with about $100,000 for his last campaign in Texas.

    Big oil men sticking together. Hit 'm hard dems.

    June 20, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Susie

    And I wonder where Dems learned all about finger pointing and dragging a misstatement on and on??? Surely not from Lisa Murkowski? Or Republicans who STILL like to bring up candidate Obama's "57 states" comment while ignoring every ugly lie Palin has ever told.
    She is right that the Gulf states are in need, but she is wrong to brush off Barton's statement as nothing. It is indicative of the mindset of the right: companies good, citizens evil. Companies good, regulation on behalf of citizens evil. Company lobbyists' money very good, any objection to something a company does that hurts people: evil!

    June 20, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. emma

    It is disturbing to realize our legislators' decisions may be influenced by the amount of pay-off they receive from big corporations. No matter what Barton apologizes for, we know it was under duress from his cohorts to avoid being disempowered, not because he had regrets. And how about Cornyn and others who voiced agreement with Barton? How can we call this democracy?

    June 20, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. ajax

    Obama has been in bed with big oil just like most politicans.During his campaign for president he was a big recepient of oil money and when he was in the Senate he didnt mind taking BP. money.He has not returned one single dime of oil stained money.

    June 20, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. Susie

    Rob Stumpf, just how did Obama strong arm anyone here? BP has admitted liability, and they set up a fund. As far as I know, all Obama did was meet with them, he did not threaten a takeover, although it looks like we should. And I bet a large majority of Americans are in agreement with this plan...we don't see it as evil.
    As far as the courts, why not ask Alaskans how that's working out 20 YEARS after Valdez. Some of them are still waiting for compensation...their lives were ruined.

    June 20, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Mesa Mick

    Murkowski, like Barton, have to continue tossing big oil's salad and giving them reach arounds. It's their jobs – Just like most GOBP members and a few blue dog dems on Capitol Hill, both are paid shills and lackies for big oil, big banksters, Wall Street and big insurance.

    Next they both will be saying Obama has to give tax cuts to the uber-rich, end taxes on corporations, permanently end the estate tax and RAISE taxes on anybody not making more than $250K a year...

    June 20, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Tess

    Barton should be ashamed of himself for this apology, 20B doesn't even begin to correct the wrong done to America and the gulf area. However, his apology was nothing compared to the President's continual submission and apologies for our country while bowing and scraping to foreign dignitaries. From Michelle does Hollywood to 500K soirees for the Mexican president to the support of the AG's quest to destroy Arizona, the president is by far the "sorriest".

    June 20, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Goofus

    Maybe they ought to "draw and quarter " him ! And just maybe he is right ! All this political posturing ,finger pointing ,sniping and nobody is for sure what happened ! And the politicians are the worst gutter sniping opportunists of the lot! If hot air partisan politics could cap it it would have been history long ago! Cut the blame game and get to work and that doesn't include more endless hearings !!

    June 20, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. Patty Patriot

    No one is forgiving bp but the worst thing here is the strong arming of this administration. So far, no one has proven what the cause of this explosion was and though bp is responsible for the stopping of the oil leak, this administration is responsible for the clean up. So far all this administration has done is to stop any clean up efforts. With the exception of the so-called president making whacko remarks like sucking it up with a straw. This shows how little this administration knows and how very little they care.

    June 20, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. Tony in Maine

    Those who shrieked that Obama was impotent, doing nothing and personally allowing the leak to go unplugged – perhaps for some nefarious reason – now scream the loudest that he is forcing poor BP to do what is right.

    It's not that they want it both ways. It's just that they are looking toward the next election cycle. You see, to Republicans, first of all it's about party, then they wrap themselves in the flag and pretend it's for country.

    June 20, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    President Obama stood up for the American people and held BP accountable; there's nothing wrong with that.

    It's just something the GOP would never do, so they don't get it.

    June 20, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Sal, New Orleans

    I called Barton's office right after he made his outrageous apology, and I told the guy that answered that I lived in the area affected by the oil disaster, and that I didn't appreciate the congressman's comments.
    The guy that took my call was very aggressive in defeding the congressman's apology, and was very well prepared with arguments to back it up. It was not a "gaffe", but a very well prepared remark echoing the tea party philosophy.
    Shame on all of them

    June 20, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Barton's comments were written down and well planned, he meant what he said because that's exactly who Republicans are, for the rich only.

    June 20, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Brian Dodge

    The methane and oil eating aerobic bacteria populations will grow exponentially until the oxygen run low, then they will die and start decomposing. The decomposition will remove the rest of the oxygen in the water, As the oxygen declines, all the krill, shrimp, crabs, clams, oysters, and fish will die too, from the top of the food chain down, depending on the level of hypoxia they can tolerate. Squid, which can survive lower O2 levels than most predators, will be the last macroinvertebrates to go. The oil settling to the bottom because of the massive use of dispersants won't get carried away by the loop current into the Gulf Stream, and will poison the Gulf for decades (there's oil still poisoning Alaska waters 20 years after Exxon Valdez). When conditions are right, upwelling currents will bring "dead zone" deep water, with its anaerobic bacteria and toxic metabolites, to the shores of the Gulf – killing more sea life, and closing beaches for years to come. The fishing and tourism businesses that survive this year will die a slow "death by a thousand cuts".

    Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana all voted Bush/Cheney, and they will take the first hit, but the devastation will spread throughout the economy.

    This will be the price of GOP "drill baby drill" deregulation policy espoused by Barton, Murkowski, Palin

    June 20, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. once upon a horse

    picture this headline..."BP offers 60billon dollars to the US to help rebuild the gulf, BUT President Obama turns them down flat" Could you imagine what Joe Barton would have said then? How about all the other far-right whiners of whom this president can not seem to please no matter what he tries to do. If those of you think Barton was correct I have an idea for you...why don't you go down there along with Barton, Backmann, Limbaugh, Romney and all the other hacks saying this is a crime and tell those people NOT to accept this money. In fact let those rich folks like Rush and Mitt pay them out of their pockets if you're so against this. I would love to see that happen and see them get trampled over as these "small people" go and get the money that is owed them.

    June 20, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. SteveB

    I'm STILL waiting for some, hell, ONE of the GOP 's big name people to condemn the comment. So far all we have are Gulf States reps who are only regionally known. I want ot hear something from one of the nationally known folk. But I guess it is too much to ask for ONE prominent GOPer to GET IT.

    June 20, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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