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. Patsy, Texas

    This was no "gaffe". The words were intentional, hurtful, and ignorant.
    If they were "misconstrued"???
    Sure, everyone "misinterpreted" your meaning.
    You meant to say, Please keep filling my pockets, and I will keep
    putting you before the American people and the environment!

    June 20, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Larry

    The Republicans have all been bought off. Look at them all defend big oil in the midst of this disaster. I wish they all lived on the gul coast.

    @Rob Stumpf–You've been stumpfed!

    Obama didn't strong arm anyone. The 1990 Oil Pollution Act requires that oil companies be responsible for the damage of their spills.

    Barton, Murkowski, Boehner, Bachmann–their all owned by big oil.

    June 20, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Politicians on both sides are scum. Everybody says things they regret. He apologized. It wasn't thta big a deal- let it go.

    June 20, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. D.

    The man verbally bowed to BP!!! He placed the corportation over our American brothers and sisters they killed, those inflicted and the environment they have stressed. He bowed to BP and became disjointed with our countrymen He should resign ASAP and go back and become the new "Texas Tea" Party chair. They might not want him either.

    June 20, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Ann

    Hello Dems/Obama, there is still oil spill in the Gulf. And now, your problem is Barton? The Republicans will eat him anyway, so let it go. But keep in mind that investors will think twice before bringing money in the US. You were just supposed to be more careful. Who is the idiot who approves a drill at 30,000 feet under the Earth crust. BP received approval to do it in the first place. Look for the idiots who gave such approval. And learn your math and science more seriously, stupids.

    June 20, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Albo58

    Emanuel is a shameless Dimwit party hack who is jumping on one man's comments to accuse the entire Republican Party for the remark! And as for "governance", the last 17 months of unmitigated disaster of this administration speaks volumes! Our country would be far better off if we chose a random name from a phonebook than the current clown!

    June 20, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. thor

    Obama took his share of money from BP when he ran for president and when he was in the Senate. His hands are not as clean as his supporters make him out to be !!!!

    June 20, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. valwayne

    Obama declared the Gulf to be the equivalent of 9/11. Then he promptly went and played Golf while the clean up effort in the Gulf remains a chaotic unorganized incompetent mess!!!!

    June 20, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Yossi Gestetner

    It is funny – or blatant chutzpa – that Democrats are attacking some Congressional Republicans, such as Burton, for wanting the rule of law to apply despite public outrage against BP, while these very Democrats defended (or didnt attack) just days earlier a Democrat member of Congress, Mr. Eldridge, who physically attacked a student who merely asked Eldrige a question.

    The way I see it, Dems: Bring it on! Let’s show a clip of Eldridge’s behavior side-by-side with Republicans demanding that the courts or current regulation, rather than-Obama arm-twisting, should decided how BP pays for their mess. Take it to the voting booths: way more voters will be mad as hell against Eldridge for his action and Democrats for their inaction than with Barton and other Republicans.

    June 20, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. anthony bowdry

    The courts helped Alaskans in the Exxon Valdez
    disaster 20 years later.

    June 20, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  11. Ben

    The Republicans love big oil and think the american tax payer should help BP with the clean up.

    June 20, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Paul

    Energy independece is a falicy. Yes we have our electric grid and for the most part it is based upon fossil fuels.

    However the oil issue is a farce. The US was consuming more than it could produce in the early 1970s. We do not have the reserves to become energy independent in this regard. Oil is a commodity traded on the world markets and it is impossible to tell where the origin of the oil we use.

    Wind turbines and solar will never be the solution. If you want reliable energy we must look back to nuclear. And yes I am a democrat and also in the Energy business.

    If you want to have everybody have lights, you must have sustained energy on the grids. Wind power operates at about 30% of the time and solar is worse. So saying we will use just wind and solar is humorous. If we do that, we will never have energy. The transmission systems need constant energy to work.

    If we want to reduce the CO2 emissions then we have to return to nuclear and do it like the French. One design for all the plants. Develop breeder systems to reuse spent fuel rods and then use pyrex solification of waste. This spreads radioactive waste over a large mass and can be stored underground.

    We have choices and they will be hard. What we need is less politics and more concrete discussion.

    Barton is a fool and I applaud Obama for being strong enough to demand money for clean up and restitution. BP would dragged its feet and litigated everything. Remember the Exon game and ask yourself, would BP be different.

    June 20, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Rob Stumpf June 20th, 2010 12:17 pm ET

    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.

    You are missing the point about what happened here. This wasn't about our President "strong-arming" anyone, he couldn't do that without the approval of Congress anyways, This was about what Barton said, You think he was right when he apologized to a giant oil company that cut corners and as a result is the cause of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. you HONESTLY believe he was right for doing that and that our president was wrong for making BP set up a fund to help those Americans along the Gulf coast whose livelihoods have been destroyed by that oil. It's truly stunning how blind some of you on the Right are..you obviously live in the heart of flyspit, Kansas where there is no oil damage.

    June 20, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. Turnabout is Fair Play

    Rob Stumpf June 20th, 2010 12:17 pm ET

    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.

    You actually believe Barton was right to apologize to a giant oil company making BILLIONS who caused this ongoing environmental disaster by cutting safety corners.. unbelievable... You disagree with our President for holding said company accountable by making them pony up the money to help those AMERICANS who made their living along the Gulf-coast, NOT strong-arming them as you so ignorantly put it, but telling them to pay what they owe because of what they caused. Some of you on the right are truly stunning in your blindness and lack of logical thinking. Get rid of your hate of a black president and see this disaster and this bought-and-paid for GOP senator for what they are. Or keep listening to Hannity, Michelle Bauchmann, the other neo-cons who offer nothing but criticism, NOT solutions and dull what's left of your mind even more.

    June 20, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. Jack

    Please. No more excuses and spin. He said what he meant. He thinks the governement is doing a shakedown of BP. This is what he truly believes, regardless of any apology. Why can't he be a man and stand up for what he believes? He's a coward. He wants to keep his cushy job. And–no matter how much they protest (as Shakespeare said "Me thinks she doth protesteth too much)–the belief the government is too hard on big business–this is what most of the Republicans believe. And Barton is a rabid Obama hater. He would accuse Obama fo the leak itself if he could. Vengeful, hateful people –the whole lot.

    June 20, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Amused

    Hey, common, don't kick poor old Joe Barton around while he is down.

    After all, if he hadn't retracted his apology to BP, Joe might have gotten an invite to sit next to Tony Hayward at the yacht races.

    June 20, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    all you heard from the GOP and the right the past few weeks was that President Obama was not doing enough, not being tough enough with BP only Rand Paul claimed he was being too hard on them. NOW that he has secured a settlement where BP will payout billions of dollars to help the companies and the people of the gulf coast region for a spill THEY caused, now these same righ wing pundits are saying BP was strongarmed and this is a slush fund. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what is going on here, these folks like Barton, Backmann, Romney, Palin and the new 3 stooges of Limbaugh/Hannity and Beck can give PLENTY of critisism but no possible solutions. I have yet to hear one of these folks offer to go down and try to help the people on the gulf coast. And all those right wing talk show host along with Mitt and Sarah have the deep pockets to do it. Sorry bunch if you ask me.

    June 20, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Uncle Sam

    I watched some of the "questioning". Maybe apologizing to the CEO of BP was uncalled for, but an apology to the American people for the immature, childish behavior of their elected officials was in order. The badgering this guy took was ridiculous to those of use with brains and a full thought process. It made about as much sense as putting a University president on a committee to investigate the oil spill.

    June 20, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. NVa Native

    Stupid Rob Stumpf – "Obama strong armed big oil" hahahaha!!! a Frank Luntz deceptive lie being tossed about by the right wing idiots. We who think see through all these lies. The right wingers/tea-baggers keep repeating the fox/farnk luntz lies. Sad little people.

    Even if Obama or any other politician took oil company money for campaigns, we know who they "bought" with that money – Repubs.
    Or maybe the Repubs just agree with big oil, either way that doesn't agree with the American people.
    "we as citizens should pay to clean this up", No we shouldn't – we should make BP and every other oil company pay for it.

    June 20, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. GOP is bad for America

    All the stooges who have totally bought into the "poor big business is getting strong-armed" line of BS that the GOP is constantly spouting are laughable. Do you think for ONE SECOND that big business cares about what happends to you or any other citizen or what happens to our environment more than they are about their profits? BP was told by engineers to put 21 stabilizing parts onto this oil well, but because they were SO INCREDIBLY GREEDY and couldn't wait a few more days to start raking in their huge profits, they only put in 6. This is only one way in which GP was negligent regarding this particular oil spill (who knows what they have done on other wells - I hope we don't have to find out via another disaster). Now are the taxpayers supposed to pay for the clean-up and all of the economic damages (so many small businesses destroyed)? Why can't BP clean up their own mess? Small businesses and others damaged by the Exxon Valdez disaster had to wait 20 YEARS while Exxon stalled and stalled and stalled by appealing every court decision before they received any compensation. I applaud President Obama for making sure that such a travesty doesn't happen again. Those damaged by BP should not have to wait 20 YEARS and President Obama has made sure they won't. Good job Mr. President and shame on all you corporate shills who support greed above all else (this goes for the GOP and all those who buy into their stupid excuses for supporting such greed).

    June 20, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Dems Have Nothing Else

    They certainly can't stand on the merits of what they've done to help the Gulf region so in true Alinsky fashion the dems find someone to blame and hammer on it to ensure the crisis doesn't got to waste.

    June 20, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Chipster

    Myth: Obama waited too long to get involved.
    Fact: Within hours of the disaster the Administration began organizing and planning.

    Myth: No one from the Administration went to the region for at least a week.
    Fact: Besides the Coast Guard's immediate rescue effort, the Navy, Dept. of Interior, Homeland Security, and EPA had officials in the region.

    Myth: BP has done nothing to help people who lost their income.
    Fact: As of today, BP has paid out over $51 million in claims.

    People need to research the facts before they go off the deep end. I'm tired of hearing people regurgitate what they hear from talking heads who simply incite anger to boost their ratings.

    As for Barton, I believe it's clear whose interest he's serving.

    June 20, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. Chipster

    Patty Patriot:
    " 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."

    The Administration is responsible for overseeing the clean up. They have had federal agencies onsite since day the first few days (NOAA, EPA, HLS, DOI and more), despite false information to the contrary. Regardless of why the accident occurred, BP is responsible for paying for the clean up. You are wrong that they have done nothing and the comment about sucking it up with a straw shows how far off the mark you are. The Administration has been open to all suggestions for removing the oil, including spreading straw on the oil to absurb the oil. The straw can then be harvested, removing oil with it. Not perfect? Perhaps, but alpaca and human hair have also been used in some areas. So, know the facts before ridiculing.

    June 20, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. Ray Uner

    The Courts across the country are staffed with Republican leaning Judges. If BP goes to court over claims, the payout of the claims will be toward the minimalistic end, due to the current Judges. Business Losses due to pass obstruction created by the oil will be honored. However, the Judges will not honor losses due to 'missed opportunities.' That is some businesses, may have experienced unusual success, had they not been interrupted by this oil crisis. And this is considered 'indeterminable,' thus not recompensable_!_! So if a business is out-of-business (OBB) in 2010 because of the oil, they only get recompensed for what they made in the last 1-3 yrs averaged. And going forward, compensation will be based on the past, not on what could have been more–had they not been interrupted_!_!

    June 20, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. Ray Uner

    Making an issue of a polite comment is a waste of time. First & foremost, screamin' at the BP CEO is a waste, he works for Someone, go scream at that Someone–you'd be more effective_!_! Consider, he may have been made CEO, in-order to be the 'sin-eater' for BP, and I really resent companies that use sin-eaters, because all public companies are run by committee. IOW, there is a large number of people to blame , not just the CEO, and when the CEO & Barton get together, it's the two most out-of-the-loop people in this whole scenario, and what they 'say' isn't going to make a difference .

    June 20, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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