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Friday opinion, Joe Barton edition.

NY Times:
Mr. Obama is betting that Republicans are also walking a fine line. That became evident Thursday as Republican leaders distanced themselves from Representative Barton’s outburst, which included the charge that Mr. Obama was acting illegally by applying “some sort of political pressure that in my words amounts to a shakedown.”

Mr. Obama’s aides clearly relished the idea of a Texas Republican dependent on donors from the energy industry who was actually apologizing to BP. As a political strategy, they appear to be adapting the course taken by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who seized on a mood of distrust when, in the closing days of the 1936 campaign, he said: ”I should like to have it said of my first administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match.” When the applause subsided, he added: “I should like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces met their master.”  

Holding BP accountable is up for debate? Really?

USA Today:

Americans have a message for President Obama on handling the oil spill: Get tougher.
Hello? NY Times?
WaPo:
Gulf oil spill puts industry-friendly Republicans in tight spot

Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Tex.), who has received more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from the oil industry during this election cycle, revealed Thursday that he may be the only person in America who believes that BP deserves an apology for the way it has been treated during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. ...

To some Republicans, the defense of the oil industry has more to do with their belief in free enterprise and their wariness of regulation. The debate over drilling has been a core part of their argument for less government. This may not be the best moment to be making that argument, either.

This is a key concept, and we need more recognition of just how badly Republicans are screwing themselves.

Dave Weigel:

The oil spill in the Gulf is this nation’s largest natural disaster and stopping the leak and cleaning up the region is our top priority," said the leaders. "Congressman Barton’s statements this morning were wrong. BP itself has acknowledged that responsibility for the economic damages lies with them and has offered an initial pledge of $20 billion dollars for that purpose."

All of that said, there really is Republican disagreement with the escrow fund, and the way the fund was set up. I'll have more on that shortly.

Open Secrets:
Individuals and political action committees associated with BP have donated $27,350 to Barton's political campaigns since the 1990 election cycle -- eighth among members of Congress, the Center for Responsive Politics' research indicates. (Barton might find it ironic that the man he said so mistreated BP, President Barack Obama, received more than $77,000 from BP employees during his political career.) Contributions from PACs made up 94 percent of Barton's donations.

Individuals or PACs associated with the oil and gas industry as a whole have been Barton's biggest patron since he entered Congress, donating more than $1,448,380 since the 1990 election cycle. The figure puts him at No. 1 among all House members for donations from the industry, fifth among members of Congress and fourth among active members of Congress.

Barton's comments today came after Hayward had just taken his licks from several members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, including Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). Barton, the ranking Republican on the energy and commerce committee, must have been a welcome sight.

Barton has been a consistent skeptic of global warming and opponent of legislation to address climate change. In his Oval Office speech Tuesday night, President Obama sought to use the disaster from the spill in the Gulf to argue for action on significant climate legislation.
Paul Krugman:
Suddenly, creating jobs is out, inflicting pain is in. Condemning deficits and refusing to help a still-struggling economy has become the new fashion everywhere, including the United States, where 52 senators voted against extending aid to the unemployed despite the highest rate of long-term joblessness since the 1930s.
David Brooks:
Some of the chaos was inevitable, once this much oil started gushing into the coastal waters. What was not inevitable, however, was the sense of insult and rage local officials now feel.
Of course it was inevitable. There are people who would oppose Obama if he suggested the sun comes up in the morning. Republicans have been outraged from the moment he won the election and have opposed everything he does. See this WaPo poll analysis on Gulf opposition, for example. Brooks is incapable of factual analysis.

Chris Cillizza:

While Democrats' open seat problems are not insignificant but compared with the "rats fleeing the sinking ship" sentiment that pervaded that Democratic House caucus just a few months ago, the party is on stronger footing than many people thought they would be this far along in the cycle.

(Credit, according to informed House leadership sources, is rightly divided between the leadership team of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn as the quartet worked on-the-fence members hard for months to keep them in Congress.)

If the Dems retain their majority, Nancy Pelosi should send Barton a rose for every Democrat who wins.
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Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 03:33 AM PDT.

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