"Smokey Joe" has said some pretty ridiculous things about energy in recent months. But at today's House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing on the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Barton took straight-faced comedy to a new level. According to The Hill:
A top Republican lawmaker apologized to BP on Thursday for what he said was a "shakedown" by the government of the oil company in forcing it to create a $20 billion fund to pay out damages resulting from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce, said that the relief fund that President Barack Obama had forced the company to create was, in essence, a "slush fund."
“It is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion dollar shakedown,” Barton said during opening remarks at a hearing today at which BP CEO Tony Hayward will testify.
Never mind that ExxonMobil never paid what it owed for the Valdez spill cleanup. Let's just trust BP! Because they've been so trustworthy and forthcoming so far, totally never denying that massive underwater oil plumes have formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and totally never misunderestimating the flow rate of the ongoing spill.
“I am ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Barton said, apologizing to the oil company.
Barton called the $20 billion account a "slush fund," and said he did not want to live in a country where private companies could be compelled by the government to create such accounts.
“It's unprecedented in our nation’s history, it has no legal standing, and it sets a terrible precedent for the future," he said.
Watch "Smokey Joe" apologize to BP here.