Washington (CNN) - A respected conservative senator, who is often critical of the Obama administration, declined Monday to criticize the administration's pressuring BP to establish a $20 billion escrow fund to help victims of the oil spill.
At the same time, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, declined to criticize Rush Limbaugh for his insistence that the administration's pressure on BP amounted to a "shakedown."
Coburn spoke to CNN Chief National Correspondent John King during an interview that aired on John King, USA.
Coburn was asked about Limbaugh's repeating that the $20 billion fund was a "shakedown." The conservative talk-radio host took aim at Republican leaders for rushing to demand that Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, retract his controversial apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward during last week's congressional hearing.
On his radio show Limbaugh said, "It was a shakedown pure and simple. And somebody had the audacity to call it what it was and everybody's running for the hills." Limbaugh added, "All you have to do is look at the polling data and the media coverage and find out what they're going to do. This is not an issue that Republicans want to go to the mattresses on, regarding the election."
Coburn was asked who he thought was right: Limbaugh or GOP House leaders.
"Oh, I don't know. I think it's the cynicism of our politics today," Coburn told King. "Nobody in either party wants to be vulnerable on any issue. And where is the real leadership?"
The Oklahoma senator also offered his thoughts on the fund itself.
"I'm not sure it's fair negotiations, because you're dealing with one very strong party and one very weak party in terms of public relations. But, you know, basically holding them accountable is where we want to be. And this is one way of doing it," Coburn said.