Vice President Joe Biden denounced Congressman Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to BP this afternoon, calling it “outrageous” and “astounding.”
“I find it incredibly insensitive, incredibly out of touch,” the Vice President said, “This is just not about jobs, this is just not about whether or not the water fowl is polluted and you can’t, this is an entire way of life that’s in jeopardy.”
Earlier this morning at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Congressman Barton apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward and likened the compensation fund set up for those affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill to a “$20 billion shakedown.”
Mr. Biden grew visibly angry, turning red, as he elaborated, “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 B.P. demonstrate their preparedness to put aside billions of dollars, in this case $20 billion, to take care of the immediate needs of people who are drowning.”
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs echoed the Vice President’s remarks, saying that the GOP may want to reconsider Rep. Barton’s leadership role on the committee.
“It’s a delusional thing,” Gibbs, “Maybe Congressman Barton should drive to the Gulf Coast of Texas or to the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and ask the people down there whether his opening bid should have been an apology to B.P.”
Gibbs said that when told of Barton’s remarks, the President shook his head and wondered aloud how anyone could say that.
Shortly after the White House briefing ended, the Congressman issued an apology for his 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,” the statement from his office read, ““I regret the impact that my statement this morning implied that BP should not pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions in this incident.”
-Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller