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The real shakedown: Barton is top House recipient of oil and gas donations

By Joe Romm  

"The real shakedown: Barton is top House recipient of oil and gas donations"

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Conservatives embrace Barton, Biden angrily responds: It’s not a ‘shakedown’ to insist BP takes care of people who are ‘drowning’

It is laughable that Joe Barton (R-TX) has the nerve to accuse Obama or anybody of shaking down the oil industry.  The Center for Responsive Politics reports on the real shakedown that occurs month after month from Big Oil’s friend on Capitol Hill:

Individuals or PACs associated with the oil and gas industry as a whole have been Barton’s biggest patron since he entered Congress, donating more than $1,448,380 since the 1990 election cycle. The figure puts him at No. 1 among all House members for donations from the industry, fifth among members of Congress and fourth among active members of Congress….

Barton’s biggest single corporate contributor, Anadarko Petroleum, is a 25 percent stakeholder in the Macondo Prospect, site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Individuals and PACs associated with Anadarko have given Barton’s campaigns $146,500 since the 1990 election cycle. Political blog FiveThirtyEight highlights this fact in this report….

Additional Center for Responsive Politics analysis shows that Barton’s candidate committee and leadership PAC combined have received $1.67 million from the oil and gas industry since the 1990 election cycle.

Of course, Think Progress reports, Conservative Pundits Rush To Defend Barton, Praise Him As Courageous:

- PAT BUCHANAN: “Barton made a very courageous statement in my judgment. “¦ To have anyone stand up and even indirectly defend [BP] and say that they were a victim of a shakedown shows some political courage.

- INGRAHAM: “I think Joe Barton, before he apologized, had a legitimate point.

- NAPOLITANO: “That is a classic shakedown. The threat to do something that you don’t have the authority to do. ”

- KILMEADE: “One Congressman calling the BP compsensation fund a ‘shakedown,’ but does he have a point?

- GINGRICH: “The president is directly engaged in extorting money from a company.

- VARNEY: “It is Hugo Chavez-like, is it not? To sieze a private company’s assets.”

Here’s a video and transcript of Biden denouncing Barton’s “shakedown” comment via TP.

Vice President Biden stopped by today’s White House press briefing to talk about the Recovery Act. While there, however, reporters encouraged him address Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to BP for the fact that the Obama administration is making the company set up a fund to pay individuals and businesses that are suffering because of the oil spill. Biden angrily responded to Barton, calling his comments “astonishing” and “outrageous”:

BIDEN: There’s an entire way of life in jeopardy. This is just not about jobs. This is just not about whether or not the waterfowl is polluted and you can’t “” this is an entire way of life that’s in jeopardy. And to sit there and say that we’re being “” in effect, as I understood the statement “” that he was ashamed we’re being tough on an oil company who caused the problem “” I mean, I “” look, I just think that it’s pretty important to the people of Louisiana all the way through Florida and even in his home state of Texas that people disassociate themselves from that.

JB:  That’s not the role “” there’s no shakedown. It’s insisting on responsible conduct and a responsible response to something they caused. And I find it outrageous to suggest that if, in fact, we insisted that BP demonstrate their preparedness, to put aside billions of dollars “” in this case, $20 billion “” to take care of the immediate needs of people who are drowning “” these guys don’t have deep pockets. The guy who runs the local marina, the guy who has one shrimping boat, the guy who has one small business “” he can’t afford to lose $10,000, $12,000, $15,000, $30,000 a month. [...]

JB:  What is wrong with that? How is that a shakedown? I mean, I just “” I don’t know, I find it pretty astounding, the comment.

Watch it:

Transcript:

Q Vice President Biden, you said this is pretty much basic, and you said there’s still millions of Americans who believe that they’re in a depression still. Do you “” with that, do you believe there should be targeted approaches for minorities, particularly African Americans, as well as Hispanics and even teens, when it comes to the unemployment rate?

And also, on another subject, what are your thoughts about Mr. Barton’s comments this morning?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, since you know I never say what’s on my mind “” (laughter) “” I probably shouldn’t comment on Mr. Barton’s comment.

Q Oh, come on.

Q Please -

Q Is it that bad?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: They’re encouraging me, what can I say? (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: Well, okay, you should -

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Look, look “” (laughter.)

Q How big of a deal was it? (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank God my mother wasn’t around. (Laughter.) Look, guys, I find it incredibly insensitive, incredibly out of touch. The reason why I got involved in politics, the reason why the President and I ran, the President got involved, is the one primary role for government is to protect people who are being taken advantage of; protect people who are in an extreme straits and not able to take care of the circumstances themselves.

I’ve been down in the bayou area off and on for the last 36 years. My daughter went down to Tulane “” I was worried she was not going to come home. I think I know the area relatively well as an outsider. There’s an entire way of life in jeopardy. This is just not about jobs. This is just not about whether or not the waterfowl is polluted and you can’t “” this is an entire way of life that’s in jeopardy. And to sit there and say that we’re being “” in effect, as I understood the statement “” that he was ashamed we’re being tough on an oil company who caused the problem “” I mean, I “” look, I just think that it’s pretty important to the people of Louisiana all the way through Florida and even in his home state of Texas that people disassociate themselves from that.

That’s not the role “” there’s no shakedown. It’s insisting on responsible conduct and a responsible response to something they caused. And I find it outrageous to suggest that if, in fact, we insisted that BP demonstrate their preparedness, to put aside billions of dollars “” in this case, $20 billion “” to take care of the immediate needs of people who are drowning “” these guys don’t have deep pockets. The guy who runs the local marina, the guy who has one shrimping boat, the guy who has one small business “” he can’t afford to lose $10,000, $12,000, $15,000, $30,000 a month.

And so the thing the President did “” and I was so proud of him “” is when we had the meeting with BP “” and they were cooperative in the meeting. They were cooperative. He said, look, what I want you to do is take care of those people now who, if they don’t get help now, are going to be under, gone. Gone.

And I might add, this fund is not a ceiling, and people can go back to it as many times as they can prove they have been damaged and they need help. And the cleanup costs are all BP’s costs, separate, apart and above that $20 billion.

What is wrong with that? How is that a shakedown? I mean, I just “” I don’t know, I find it pretty astounding, the comment.

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18 Responses to The real shakedown: Barton is top House recipient of oil and gas donations

  1. Daniel Ives says:

    That was some good messaging right there. I hope they keep making a big deal out of this, and the conservative response to it too. I would love for independent and conservative voters in Gulf states to pay attention to this. It seems hard for the GOP to spin its way out of this one.

  2. This is a good time to regard the case of Kivalina v Exxon, et al… It’s a lawsuit that holds Exxon and many other carbon fuel companies as liable for global warming that melted the ice around the village of Kivalina. The Corps of Engineers has validated the direct cause, now it is just a matter of whether the Supreme Court will honor a simple nuisance case. You make a mess, you pay for it… simple nuisance law. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

    Somewhere I heard that the courts are already choked with cases filed on this one.

  3. Lore says:

    Only an idiot would have sided with Barton and I guess it’s clear now which ones really are.

  4. Cho Wong says:

    I wonder to which party convicted felon Gorge Suross donates?
    The dirty party?

  5. prokaryote says:

    “That was some good messaging right there. ”

    Exactly.

  6. Coast Guard Admiral Thad “I trust Tony” Allen: BP now captures 25,000 barrels/day = “probably 70%” (“most probable total flow 35,000 bpd”) http://bit.ly/BP35k.
    Yeah right, does this like 30% then? http://bit.ly/SkROV1

  7. Chris Dudley says:

    Should be careful though counting coins. President Obama raised quite a bit more from oil and gas interests in the last cycle than Barton did. And he has been trying to do the oil companies’ bidding up until this spill intervened. He is even allowing drilling to go forward in the Gulf while all the spill response resources are already tied up so that a new spill would have no clean up effort at all. Perhaps Barton is just throwing a jealous fit because he feel jilted by the oil companies. What he says in not important, he is just mad at the President because the oil companies like the President better than Joe Barton. Happens in junior high school all the time….

  8. Peter Mizla says:

    And the GOP is hoping to run as a ‘Populist’ party this autumn protecting the evil overreach of big Government”–SURE RIGHT.

    At this point the above aspirations of the GOP have probably been dashed forever- I am sure at this point only those totally mesmerized by the tripe of FOX News will know who the real enemy is-

  9. BillD says:

    I wonder whether Barton’s comments would have been different if the spill had reached the shores of Texas. Is it just that he didn’t see the point of helping people to the east of his great state? Even with a 20 billion escrow, I expect that many businesses dependent on the Gulf for tourism and fisheries will go belly up. Presumably, Barton wanted to wait months or years to help people who were counting on Gulf derrived income from this spring and summer

  10. Philip says:

    More than good. Biden at his best. What politics and government should be about. Let’s hope that this is given wide exposure.

  11. mike roddy says:

    Dave Roberts of Grist has a good piece today about the US Senate. Be sure to have a barf bag handy.

    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-06-17-another-pathetic-day-in-the-us-senate

  12. Zan says:

    Re: Barton’s apology: As a matter of usage, I just can’t believe anyone still thinks “If” is any kind of apology.

  13. Leland Palmer says:

    Oh, the low estimates are the scientists fault, according to Reuters:

    That’s the most recent estimated range of the leak’s flow rate from a team of U.S. scientists.

    The scientists seeking to gauge the flow rate for the U.S. government have tripled their figure for the high-end estimate of the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico since offering their first guess of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.

    See? It’s the scientists changing their minds, not BP, at all. No mention of BP’s initial estimate of 5000 barrels per day, which the MSM continued to quote, for weeks. No mention of the scientists that testified before Markey’s committee, with an estimate of roughly 100,000 barrels per day – in the middle of May.

    Steve Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, earlier this month made simple calculations from a video BP released on May 12 and came up with a flow of 70,000 barrels a day, NPR reported last week. Werely on Wednesday told a House Commerce and Energy Committee subcommittee that his calculations of two leaks that show up on videos BP released on Tuesday showed 70,000 barrels from one leak and 25,000 from the other.

    Reuters implies that the divergent estimates are because scientists can’t make up our minds, not because we are living in a country with a news media apparently controlled by a financial elite.

  14. Ziyu says:

    @Sustainable2050, The coast guard has some fuzzy math skills there. The lowest estimate for the spill rate is 35000 barrels. Scientifically, you are supposed to take an average of the given ranges by scientists to do your calculations. The range is from 35000-100000 barrels per day. The average is about 65000 barrels. 25000/65000 is much closer to 40%. There is no way 70% of the oil is being captured. Do the math scientifically and you get somewhere between 30-40%. Heck the Coast Guard’s math may be the other way around. Instead of capturing 70% and 30% spilling, it is 30% capturing and 70% spilling. Spill Baby Spill!

  15. talkpc says:

    It’s the scientists changing their minds, not BP, at all. No mention of BP’s initial estimate of 5000 barrels per day, which the MSM continued to quote, for weeks. No mention of the scientists that testified before Markey’s committee, with an estimate of roughly 100,000 barrels per day – in the middle of May.

  16. Acronym List says:

    Steve Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, earlier this month made simple calculations from a video BP released on May 12 and came up with a flow of 70,000 barrels a day, NPR reported last week. Werely on Wednesday told a House Commerce and Energy Committee subcommittee that his calculations of two leaks that show up on videos BP released on Tuesday showed 70,000 barrels from one leak and 25,000 from the other.

  17. website says:

    Dave Roberts of Grist has a good piece today about the US Senate. Be sure to have a barf bag handy.