Opinion: He was wrong the first time, but at least he was sincere


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No question, it was outrageous for Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) to apologize to BP and refer to a $20-billion escrow fund for oil spill victims as a ‘shakedown’ and a ‘slush fund.’ But Barton at least was saying what he meant -- something we supposedly admire in politicians.

The same can’t be said for his hasty apology. “I want the record to be absolutely clear,’ the chastened Barton said, ‘that 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 have said this morning has been misconstrued in opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction.”


It was a weaselly apology of the ‘sorry if anyone was offended variety.’ But later Barton embellished it, adding: “I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown,’ and I retract my apology to BP.”

Either way, he apologized for comments that seemed to reflect his actual view of the White House’s strong-arming of BP (in a good cause, I should add). He went from looking like a patsy for Big Oil to looking like a patsy for Big Oil who can be muscled into making an insincere apology. He should have quit while he was behind.

-- Michael McGough