Barton Apologizes For Apology

By Cullen Dirner

Jun 17, 2010 5:04pm

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Cullen Dirner report:

Just five hours after Congressman Joe Barton, R-Texas, first apology to BP, he has apologized again, but this time for his first apology.

“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.  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. BP and the federal government need to stop the leak, clean up the damage, and take whatever steps necessary to prevent a similar accident in the future,” Barton said in a written statement.

The Congressman’s first apology came in his opening remarks this morning at a hearing with BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward.  “I'm only speaking for myself, I'm not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is again in my words amounts to a ‘shakedown’ so I apologize,” he said.

Shortly after Joe Barton uttered his infamous apology to BP, he was
summoned to Republican leader John Boehner’s office off the House floor.

Sources familiar with the meeting say Barton was given an ultimatum by
Boehner and Republic whip Eric Cantor:  Retract your apology to BP and
your accusation of a WH “shakedown” or you will be stripped of your
status as the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Since then, there has been massive outcry from both Republicans and Democrats.   Minority Leader John Boehner said he disagreed with Barton and though BP ought to be held responsible for the spill.  Vice President Joe Biden was also outraged by the apology and the use of the term ‘shakedown.’

“There's no shakedown.  It's insisting on responsible conduct and a responsible response to something they caused.  And I find it outrageous to suggest that if, in fact, we insisted that BP demonstrate their preparedness to put aside billions of dollars — in this case 20 billion (dollars) — to take care of the immediate needs of people who are drowning,” the Vice President said.

In Congressman Barton’s afternoon questioning on camera he once again apologized for his earlier remarks saying, “I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident and if anything I've said this morning has been misconstrued, an opposite effect, I want to apologize for that.”

- Jonathan Karl and Cullen Dirner

ABC News' A. Mac Miller contributed to this report.

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