By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
BP is - in the public's mine - enemy number one these days. So it came as a shock to - well - nearly everyone - when Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a congressional hearing Thursday.
The apology was a response to the results of a meeting BP officials held with President Obama at the White House the previous day. After which BP announced it had agreed to put $20 billion in escrow to help pay for compensation for those affected by the Gulf oil spill.
Barton - who former Congressman Bob Ney said in a Paltalk News Network interview is known for his verbal gaffes - termed the deal a "shakedown" of BP - even though the loudest criticism for the agreement had been - 'til then - that the money set aside wasn't enough.
He was immediately challenged by those on the other side of the aisle. And White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a quick and biting statement admonishing Barton. Who has now apologized for his apology.
In the interview, Ney, now a correspondent for the Talk Radio News Service, noted that Barton lists as a major contributor to his campaign: BP.
Which makes Barton BP's boy on the committee.
Which makes what happened on Capitol Hill all the more instructive. Because it helps highlight the way members of Congress are influenced by their contributors.
When the oil began gushing and it became clear to him that the Minerals and Management Service - the government agency that oversees drilling - was too cozy with the companies it regulates - President Obama ordered a shakeup - replacing its chief with new - untainted - blood. Congress now is looking into restricting the MMS. But if it really wants to do something beneficial - maybe Congress should look within - at the way its members are influenced by those with deep pockets who contribute to their campaigns. Only then will the voters have confidence that the people they elect are representing the people - not giant corporations like BP.