Right-wing Watch and The Joe Barton Chronicles

Right Wing News is currently running this defense of Joe Barton (R-TX), Dems to Run on Joe Barton Campaign Platform

Rep. Joe Barton says what everyone knows is true and his own party threatens to kick him out of his committee seat. We expected cynical political opportunism from Democrats, but not from Republican leaders.

Where are we as a society when the truth is treated as a something that can’t be uttered in public?

Barton, the Texas Republican, apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward, now relieved of his duties, during Thursday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing for what he characterized as a “shakedown” by the White House in forcing the company to create a $20 billion victims’ compensation fund.

He also declared that he was “ashamed” of the White House’s tactics, and called it “a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”

“I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is — again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown,” he said.

Naturally, the Democrats went hard after Barton. And the media were happy to aid the cause. And just as naturally, other comments by Barton have not received as much attention. Without having watched the hearing or read the transcript, how many people know that Barton said:

“There is no question … that BP made decisions that objective people think compromise safety. There is no question that BP is liable for the damages.”

Or that he told Hayward “we want to hold (BP) responsible, do what we can to make the liable parties pay for the damages.”

Just as every lawmaker should, Barton simply wants the government to follow our due process system …

Did anyone else get a little teary eyed at the fate of poor Barton and the holy truth about how The One (President Mighty Obama) has given BP and by some weird triangulation, the entire business community, history’s biggest bitch slap. Joe Conason addressed the absurd notion of a BP “shakedown” a few days ago, Ripping the populist mask off GOPBP

As a GOP representative from Houston, Barton should be expected to act like an oil industry rent-boy. That is his essential identity and purpose in life, and that is why he apologized to BP chairman Tony Hayward for the “shakedown” perpetrated against the company by President Obama. But there was no shakedown nor was there, as some conservatives have suggested, any violation of the corporation’s constitutional rights. The president has no power to prevent BP from defending claims in court, nor can he prevent the Justice Department from indicting BP executives on criminal charges if sufficient evidence exists to do so. The establishment of the escrow fund was entirely voluntary, and indeed many observers believe that the decision to create it was motivated as much by self-interest and public relations as by compassion or guilt.

Due process is not in issue since the fund was set up by BP. That the president’s use of the bully pulpit may have had some measure of influence on BP’s decision should be applauded unless you care more about BP than the residents of the Gulf coast. While the Department of Justice is still not as independent from political pressure as it should be ( at least it is not being used as a political hammer of the Republican party) , the DOJ is empowered and obligated to prosecute criminal negligence. To some observers like myself it does look as though BP and it’s associates acted with criminal neglect in it’s responsibilities to run a safe drilling rig. It also happens that BP’s partner in the Horizon project thinks the same thing. There is also enough evidence to let a couple hundred lawsuits against BP proceed , including ones brought by the families of those killed and the shrimping industry. Right Wing News, what a great name for a place to get stuff that reads like propaganda from Soviet era Pravda.

The right cannot seem to get it’s story straight about the escrow account. Lies are easy, the thinking goes among the kool kids, after all that whole WMD thing worked so well many people still believe it, Rep. Franks Now Says Obama Dishonestly Taking Credit for BP Escrow Fund

Earlier in the week, the Republican Study Committee (the caucus of House conservatives) issued a press release calling BP’s decision to open a $20 billion escrow account to compensate Gulf residents hurt by the BP spill a “Chicago-style political shakedown.”  Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of RSC, commented, “in an administration that appears not to respect fundamental American principles, it is important to note that there is no legal authority for the President to compel a private company to set up or contribute to an escrow account.”

Now, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), another member of the RSC, is attacking President Obama from a different angle.  In a press release, Franks does not accuse the White House of a “shakedown,” but rather blasts the president for his supposed dishonesty in taking credit for the creation of the escrow account.

“However, the real story here is that BP had already made the decision to set aside $20 billion to compensate those harmed by this tragic disaster several days prior to the President’s speech. The true outrage is that this was never the President’s idea at all, and he should be ashamed for pretending it was for political purposes.”

Which is it?  Did the president forcefully shakedown BP or is he dishonestly taking credit for something BP had already committed to?  It can’t be both.