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 in MO

    Barton was just dumb enough to state what most republicans are thinking but too chicken to acknowledge.

    June 20, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. Colorado Liberal

    Sorry Lisa Murkowski; I just don't buy it. Yes, you are smooth, polished, and beautiful, but just don't buy it.

    In a strange, ironic way, Joe Barton was only being honest. When I saw his latest gaffe on CNN I knew we had a rare moment–a Republican actually telling the truth about GOP core "values."

    The suits of the GOP must spend an enormous amount of time in the study of manipulating the foolish, uniformed sheep which vote for them. I have little doubt that those most strange political creatures in Washington and elsewhere make systematic study of power–Ancient Rome, Machiavelli, Hitler, Mussolini, and the varied and various tyrants of Marxist descent. Indeed, earlier this year, we saw some "GOP evidence" to this effect on CNN.

    In any case, perhaps those of us who love this country–and not just its oil, its creature comforts, yachts, golf courses, and gated communities–can be thankful for the hapless Joe Bartons who unwittingly tell the truth about the Republican Party.

    Keep up the good work, President Obama. George Bush, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney left an incalculable mess on every doorstep in Washington... and the USA… and in the Gulf…and in Iraq…. Barack Obama is expected to clean it up–and right this moment!

    June 20, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. steveda

    WOW.. am i the onlyone thaty picked up on Sen. Murkowski's comment? The gov't is supposed to make sure there is a "claims compensation system tha works for them" .. sounds like big gov;t to me... are the republicans backpedaling from Barton's comments so fast they ended up on the left??? After all, GOPers believe business will always do the right thing ... or don't they? Love it!!!

    June 20, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. chris

    No matter what Obama does, Conservatives are predetermined to find fault with it all. The other week, the President was planning on taking an overseas trip to meet with world leaders. Right wing politicians and pundits criticized this and said Obama should cancel the trip and instead focus on the spill. What happens? The President decides to cancel the trip so he can focus on the spill. Then the exact same pundits and politicians now complained that this showed that Obama was exploiting the crisis to gain political points.

    Republicans constantly talk out of both sides of their mouths.

    June 20, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. JES

    Why don't you try this.

    Stop acting like thugs, stop balming anyone, look for solutions, and get off your dead butts and do something constructive for a change.

    Everyone of you up in DC are acting like a bunch of three year old children I am ashamed of all of you including Obama.

    I don't see where you get off acting like bullies and punks.

    One reason we are in the mess we are because you can't work together and it might be time to clean house.

    Fair warning elections are coming up in 2010 and 2012 and if the rest of the country are like me we are sick and tired of you self serving crap.

    June 20, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. The Truth, Please...I Just Want The Truth

    Defending a British oil companies "right" to pollute our oceans is absolutely inexcusable...

    June 20, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Steven Coppola

    Political gamesmanship as usual. It was a government shakedown that sets a nasty trend. I would have preferred that BP set up and run this independently. Instead, the Dems have hinted that they will mandate that the money cover healthcare expenses of gulf states. That is why it is a shakedown... because the politicians in charge are trying to figure out how to direct the disbursement of the funds.

    June 20, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Pretzel Logic

    Unbelievable that given the fact that BP has been shown to have cut corners to save a few hundred thousand dollars and have now caused Billions of dollars in damage, that anyone would defend them or the Republicans who support them. Give me a break already from the "government takeover" line. The government "took over" GM and some of the major banks and the result was that we averted a Depression and now all of those companies are on their way to back. Don't remember the Republicans screaming about saving auto worker jobs but now they are all too concerned about the oil workers. Baloney. Sell crazy someplace else, we're full up over here.

    June 20, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. g

    ask the people in alaska about the corperatate own courts barton knew if it was left to the courts the people in these states will lose and the republicans know it too

    June 20, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. sally

    Lisa Murkowski's response is ludicrous. This spill is a direct result of deregulation which has been pushed as the major Republican agenda. Republicans thrive on blaming government for everything and working to get any kind of limits on business thrown out. They have a robber baron mentality.

    June 20, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. jilli

    Barton (R) ANADARKO, is the embodiment of the republican ideology. Barton accepted money – $1.4 million from the oil industry, and he's earning his paycheck. He's well away of where his, and the priorities of his party lies, hence the apology to BP.

    This should be a reality check for those on the right. The republicans have sided with the insurance industry, wall street, and now big oil over the interests of this country. It's pathetic.

    June 20, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Isabella

    Listening to the talk shows today , I realize no wonder the country is in such bad shape.
    The constant drivel that is forthcoming from the politicians is self serving and just rhetoric for political expedience.
    Never has this country been so divided , language and demeanor in the White House and congress has lost it's decorum and elected men and women have forgotten why the people have sent them to Washington.
    Take the big money out of Politics , especially elections and it might result in better choices and better decision making .
    The oil spill is a tragic catastrophe and it is absolutely disgusting to use it for political gains.
    Concentrate on stopping the oil flow now.

    June 20, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Sue

    The Republican Party needs to force this clown to retire.......

    They need to do this NOW--in order to take away the talking points/attacks by the Demorats.

    He opened his big mouth--and now needs to put his foot in his mouth, as he is giving his 'retirement' speech.

    June 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Republicans don't even have intelligent debating points......

    Senator Lisa Murkowski is nobody to speak about disputing the concept that Rwe had Republican ideology would have supported BP during the Gulf spill if we had a sitting Republican President. She just had her own Environmental Regualtion bill blockage attempts beaten. And can anyone guess what her rationale was for disputing that EPA scientists contribute setting energy policy regulations was based upon ??? It was based upon the argument such regualtion might circumvent Congressional authority when Congress has no expertise on the subject. Can you believe it !!! She suggested letting unqualified Congressman and Congresswomen be at the whim of Oil/Energy Lobbyists decide what regulations should protect our planet from factors that could damage it permanently. She's just another example of Republican Coporate representaion with complete disregard for individuals and the earth. What an idiot !!!!

    June 20, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    People should stop hitting on Congressman Barton for his support of Big Oil (BP Oil). This man is doing his job. As the congressman bought and paid for by BP Oil and other oil companies, it is his job to stand in support of him and he has done just that.

    So please do not expect him to stand for the people that elected him as you only elected him while BP Oil paid for him.

    June 20, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. ST

    I agree it was not the gaffe. Barton knew why he went to the panel, who was listening and did not care at all about the repercussion. He said it intentionally. If it was not the case, he would have called Hayward personally and express his stand. But he didn't do so!

    June 20, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. rdepontb

    Senator Murkowski,
    It is too late for you, isn't it? You have stood up on the wrong side of _both_ Parties' issues, and you are doing it again here. Best for you to stay quiet; learn from our more senior GOP counterparts, please.

    June 20, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    baron should have already stepped down from the energy committee by now. It's funny how the high and low ranking rethugs immediately threw him under the bus.
    Why don't they ask bachman and angle and the quitter and limberger and girly beck to step aside and shut up? Because nobody listens to them on faux news (or radio) when they spew forth their stupidity except the right wing extremists. barton made the mistake of saying what the party of NO really thinks of the "small people" at a congressional hearing which was being televised and watched by millions.
    Oops!! Foot in mouth in front of ALL Americans not just the so called "real" Americans (a.k.a. teabaggers).

    June 20, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Kristen

    To "Patty Patriot"–
    Exactly how is it the Obama administration's responsibility to clean up the mess created by a corporation? That would imply that it's the taxpayers who foot the bill. I really don't understand the Republican mindset. It's free market this, free market that, but as soon as a run-amuck free market does something disastrous like this, it's somehow becomes the government's fault and the taxpayers' responsibility.

    Your party guts the government for 8 years, allows the oil companies to self-regulate, screams that Obama is trying to take over the energy industry the day he takes office, and then blames him for BP's recklessness. You call Obama weak and ineffective when he doesn't intervene with BP, and then as soon as he does, you complain that he's strongarming BP into creating a victims' compensation fund.

    June 20, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Joey

    Barton is a Big Oil lackey. What he said was out front and in your face. The other Republicans know it too and thus want him to fall on his sword. Swine one and all.

    June 20, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  21. tony

    Rob Stumpf,

    The president did not strong-arm BP. BP negotiated to set up this fund because it knows that it is on the hook for the damages. A protracted legal fight will not change the outcome. Vast majority of cases do not go to trial because it would be a waste of time and money. Most cases are settled before they even reach the jury. And BP does not want this case to reach a jury. By negotiating to set up this fund, BP is acknowledging the inevitable and is attempting to rehabilitate its image in the face of a PR disaster. After the Barton apology, I am sure Republicans know what a PR disaster is.

    Some friendly advice to Republicans: Don't defend the indefensible. When you are in a hole, stop digging. There is a reason why so many people hate lawyers. They are trained to come up with all possible arguments for their clients, even when their clients are as guilty as sin. And for that lawyers are one of the most despised professions in America. I am sure Republicans will not disagree. BP does not need to pay its lawyers and go through the court proceedings when the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

    June 20, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Glennis

    It was a stupid move on the part of Barton. It's fine to criticize him for it, but now it's time to move on. There are more important issues to deal with than somebody's mouth. It's not like Democrats don't say incredibly stupid things every day. The CNN poll today is very telling of the majority of readers and posters here. They'd throw buckets of time and money and hold benefits for any hellhole in the world, but are not willing to do anything to help a region of their own country. Speaks volumes for Democratic supporters. And what is says is not good.

    June 20, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. billybob 'n NC

    The duplicitous weasel-idiot needs to be hammered!

    June 20, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Avram Baskin

    Of course, if a Democrat had issued that apology, the Republicans would be saying exactly the same thing as when one of their own said it. They wouldn't be trying to take political advantage of a statement by one congressman. Right? Suuuuuure they wouldn't.

    June 20, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. waiting

    BP is to put $ 5 billion a year into this fund.The money
    will come from funds set aside for advertising, pr and
    other social events they sponsor such as yatching,racing
    and expensive call-girls for clients. They probably jump on
    this agreement figuring they could have spent this much in
    The president did a good thing but people wont see it that way
    because they are blinded by Fox News cronies telling how to think.

    June 20, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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