Conservatives Rally to BP’s Defense

BP obviously has a large public relations problem on its hands with regard to its drilling activities poisoning a major swathe of the world’s oceans. Thus after meeting with Barack Obama and members of his administration, the firm’s executives decided that the company’s interests could be best served by implementing an Obama-approved plan to create an escrow fund to compensate injured parties. This is important because it ensures that BP will face meaningful legal liability for any misdeeds it’s found to be responsible for.

Like all issues relating to torts, this highlights the tension between free market philosophy in theory and conservative movement politics in practice. In theory, legal liability for damages is supposed to be the reason that light or absent regulation is okay. In practice, conservatives love businessmen and hate things businessmen dislike. And businessmen hate legal liability for corporate misdeeds. Hence things like this sniveling “apology” from Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) to BP’s executives, who he feels have been wronged by Obama’s effort to ensure that meaningful liability will exist:

And it’s important to understand that it’s not just Barton. Senator John Cornyn feels the same way and Josh Marshall points out that the main caucus of the 100 or so most wingnutty House members has taken a similar view.