Rush Limbaugh calls it a “slush fund.” Michele Bachmann calls it “redistribution of wealth,” placing her in full agreement with radio talk show host Mark Levin. Today, Congressman Joe Barton, R-Tex., called it a “shakedown.” He says he’s “ashamed” at yesterday’s announcement that BP was going to make the $20 billion payment, that it creates a “terrible precedent.” Oil has its friends in Congress, always has. And its friends have always been there to protect it from hands-on safety regulation and paying its share of taxes – remember the oil depletion allowance? Those who say that death and taxes are unavoidable are only half-right when it comes to the oil business. And now, they’re speaking out, these folks who identify more with the huge petroleum company than with its victims. These folks don’t identify with the “small people” (as the BP chairman calls them), the people of the Gulf who have seen their lives shattered. Could this be a time in the Obama presidency when the loudest voices on the political right have bet on the wrong pony? At the end of all this, do they truly wish to end up as the guys rooting for the perpetrator of this iconic catastrophe? Do they really want the independent voter to see them as the “BP Party?” Do they really want to imply that, if their party were in the White House, they would be rooting for BP to somehow avoid paying for this sea of troubles that they have bequeathed to us? Finally, Congressman Joe Barton – the man who said BP’s decision to create a $20 billion escrow account was a “shakedown” – today publicly apologized to the giant oil company for what President Obama encouraged it to do. Several hours later, Barton took back his comments. Still, something tells me the image of a Republican Congressman apologizing to BP on the record is something that many other Republicans will be branded with between now and November. Apparently, you can get run out of the Republican Party if you hug President Obama for bringing money to your state, as the Governor of Florida learned the hard way, but it’s downright Republican to get down on your knees before BP.
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Political right attacks BP's $20 billion escrow fund