Please watch Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologize to BP's Tony Hayward this morning:
Barton, it seems to me, made it clear that he does not give two shits for the people who have been directly affected by this disaster who isn't an executive or a shareholder of BP. To those people, he offered his most sincere apology. Meanwhile, he gave a big old "fuck you" to the "small people." Even the Chairman of BP was willing to express awkward concern for that lot, and to the tune of $20 billion.
I also hope that every single member of the House who has a district in the strike zone of this oil, and their constituents, understands exactly where Barton stands (I applaud Rep. Jeff Miller for taking a stand on Barton and his comment. Miller's district includes Pensacola, FL. And don't think that Barton is alone in his sentiment. What I am sure the people of the Gulf coast see as the beginning of some restitution to their forever altered lives, people like Barton and the Republican Study Committee see a "shakedown" or "Chicago-style" politics (Rep. Miller might want to issue a statement against the RSC as well). That "shakedown" will help a fisherman pay his/her mortgage. That "shakedown" will help to allow thousands of people to avoid the fate of the millions of Americans who remain out of work.
I think that the political default setting for most Republicans is to agree with what Barton said in his apology (of course that changes if it's an issue directly affecting their districts), though I doubt that many would be so bold as to do it that publicly. Please note that many of the comments coming from the GOP (not including Miller's) have been either in support of Barton, or attempts to parse Barton's position. Sadly, this little window showing the depth of the GOP's relationship with oil companies will likely do nothing to stem the undeserved support they receive from the very types of people who need the type of assistance that Obama has just secured (and before anyone starts, the Democrats have their own distinct relationship problems as well, but that is not what I am talking about right now).
I am sick and tired of this religion, if you will, of the marketplace. Whether we are talking oil companies, auto companies or banks, they are concerned first and foremost with the bottom line. If "small people" are helped, so be it. But that is not their concern. Too many people worship at the feet of the corporation (like Rep. Barton). We always hear about the "excesses" of government, mostly aimed at programs that help poor people (though too many tend to ignore the real excesses, like warrant-less wiretapping or the practice of torture in our name) from some, but that same lot rarely talks of the excesses of the corporation. No, they apologize for governmental excess. Good job Rep. Barton.
UPDATE: Barton has issued a retraction. I would have hoped that he would have stuck to his guns on this one.