Joe Barton Covered in BP Oil Money

Andrew Belonsky :: Thursday, June 17th, 2010 5:30 pm

Texas Rep. Joe Barton apologized for apologizing to BP’s Tony Hayward today. Yet people are still wondering why Barton would go against the American grain and sympathize with the loathsome oil company. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

Earlier in the morning, Barton described the White House’s demands that BP put $20 billion in escrow as a “shakedown.” “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” said Barton. “I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown.” He went on to characterize the deal as a “terrible precedent for our nation’s future.”

Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between were furious. Fellow Republican Rep. Jeff Miller insisted, “I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee.” Barton later came to his senses and clarified, “I apologize for using the term ’shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP.” BP’s PAC won’t be happy to hear that news.

Barton, the ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, has received $13,000 from BP’s political action committee since 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Individuals who work for the company, meanwhile, have contributed at least $27,350 to his political career since 1990.

It’s no wonder the lawmaker would bend over backward to feel compassion for British Petroleum. After all, they’ve always been sympathetic with him.

Now that he’s back on the “right” side, I wonder if he’ll return the money. He should, as should the dozens of other lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, who have taken money from BP. Hayward and company are likely going to need every dime.