On CBS’s Face the Nation, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) called on BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward to resign. He said he was appalled at the news that Hayward had attended a yacht race on Saturday in England in the midst of the the oil crisis, calling it the “height of stupidity.” His comments were echoed by Louisiana Republican Congressman Joseph Cao, who added BP is “out of touch”:
SCHIEFFER: You were all over the Gulf Coast region yesterday. Did you run into any yacht racing down there?
SHELBY: I didn’t but I ran into a lot of people, a lot of small medium size businesses… people that don’t have yachts but are concerned about their livelihoods and rightly so. I thought the fact that the chairman of BP had the gall, the arrogance, to go to a yacht race… in England, while all of this was going on here was the height of stupidity. And I believe myself that he should go. I don’t know how he can represent a company in crisis like BP and ignore what’s going on in the Gulf of Mexico…
CAO: I am very disappointed at how out of touch the executives at BP are. Our people are suffering tremendously down here. I just received news from a staffer of mine that a Vietnamese fisherman actually tried to commit suicide. So its a situation that is quite desperate for many thousands of people.
Shelby also called Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) assertion that BP was owed an apology “dumb.” He also invited Barton and Rand Paul — who defended Barton — to come down to the Gulf and “see what’s happening.”
Furthermore, while conservatives have begun attacking the Obama administration for being too tough on big business as a result of the pressure on BP, Shelby pushed back and echoed progressive calls for strengthening regulators:
SHELBY: We need hands-on regulation in this area. Maybe we’ve learned some things — that we can’t take shortcuts. … A lot of it is common sense — and not let the industry run way ahead of the regulators. The regulators have got to be on top of the industry, not the industry on top of the regulators.