How many of our elected representatives agree with Rep. Joe Barton?

by Mike Gaworecki

June 17, 2010

Most Americans recognize the BP Deepwater Disaster as the environmental catastrophe that it is and support all efforts being undertaken to hold BP accountable for the damage the company’s negligence has caused to Gulf Coast ecosystems and the livelihoods of Gulf Coast residents. But not Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)Proving just how out of touch he is with the American public — and how deeply he is in the pocket of corporate polluters like BP — Rep. Barton this morning decried what he sees as a “tragedy of the first proportion” — not, incredibly, the devastation being wrought in the Gulf, but the fact that a corporation like BP should be held accountable for the malfeasance and violation of public trust that caused that devastation by paying into an escrow account to compensate Americans impacted by the oil spill.

It’s really just mindboggling that any elected representative of the people of the USA should be standing up for little ol’ BP at a time when millions of Americans’ livelihoods are being destroyed. But that is exactly what Rep. Barton did.

See for yourself Rep. Barton’s shameful — and shameless — testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning:

Even a fellow Republican lawmaker is calling on Rep. Barton to step down from his post as the ranking minority member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Many other Republicans have already attempted to distance themselves from Barton’s statement directed to BP CEO Tony Hayward that he is “ashamed” of President Obama’s efforts to hold BP accountable.

But the term “shakedown” has been getting thrown around by a lot of conservative and pro-corporate politicians lately to describe the $20 billion escrow account BP will be creating to compensate Gulf Coast residents affected by the tragedy. So it’s hard to imagine Barton is alone in feeling that the needs of BP should come before the needs of impacted Americans. Makes you wonder: What other politicians elected to represent us are actually more concerned about looking after their corporate donors even in a time of tragedy?

We the people should not stand for this. Since Barton apparently has more sympathy for a rich and powerful CEO of a foreign company than he does for his fellow Americans — whom he was elected to represent — then he absolutely should step down. And every single politician elected to represent Americans should be calling for him to do so.

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