BP CEO definitely Master of the Artful Dodge

Congress is in the process of proving just how inept they are as BP CEO Tony Hayward managed to spend hours providing insouciant looks and not much else. The shocker of the morning came from entrenched Republican Oil Lackey Congressmen Joe Barton who apologized to Hayward for subjecting such a fine business to a Chicago-style Shake Down. He’s now backed off of the statement but the damage is done to his credibility around the hill. This almost tops Joseph Cao’s call for ritual suicide for BP executives earlier this week. Barton’s apology came after even Republican colleagues started the call to remove him from the energy subcommittee.

After infuriating Democrats and Republicans alike with his public apology to BP and suggesting that a $20 billion escrow fund was a “shakedown” by the White House, Barton is now “retracting” his statement, made at a hearing with BP CEO Tony Hayward.

“I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP,” Barton said. “As I told my colleagues yesterday and said again this morning, BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico. BP should fully compensate those families and businesses that have been hurt by this accident.”

Showing just how involved Republican leadership was in damage control over Barton’s comments today, the retraction was forwarded to the media by House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office.

Barton evidently likes BP’s deep corporate pockets as evidenced by records of his campaign corporate contributions.

Ordinarily, it’s not that shocking to see a Republican from Texas defend the petroleum industry. But Rep. Joe Barton’s comments to BP CEO Tony Hayward today, in which he described it as a “tragedy” that a “a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown”, has obviously touched something of a raw nerve, with Republicans already seeking to distance themselves from the comment while Democrats look for ways to exploit it.

Making matters worse for Barton is the identity of the top contributor to his election campaigns. Since 1989, it has been the company Anadarko Petroleum, from which he’s received $56,500 in PAC donations and another $90,000 in individual contributions.

Congress is intent to prove that BP put safety measures on hold to enhance profits. (Shock! Corporations Maximizing Profits! More Breaking News at 6!) Even CNN has given up live coverage because basically, there’s nothing to see here! BP is under criminal investigation. They actually think Hayward will pony up some evidence?
Lawmakers castigated BP chief executive Tony Hayward at a House hearing Thursday for what they said were cost-cutting measures and other “shortcuts” leading to a disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but Hayward said he was not prepared to make judgments about the cause of the catastrophe until “multiple investigations” are completed.

Well, the hearings continue, but so does the stiff upper lip. Who is winning this argument?

Meanwhile, over at the CNN Polling people, it’s obvious the Oval Office Speech on Tuesday hasn’t improved the President’s ability to lead on this issue.

Fifty-nine percent of people questioned say they disapprove of how the president is dealing with the spill, up eight points from May. Forty-one percent say they approve of how Obama’s handling the crisis, down five points from last month.