GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas said at today's congressional hearing with BP chairman Tony Hayward:
"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown--in this case a 20 billion dollar shakedown with the attorney general of the United States who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people participating in a what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, that's got not legal standing, and which sets I think a terrible precedent. ... 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 to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown."
Ben Smith reports the White House smells "blood in the water." A statement from Robert Gibbs:
What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction. Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy’, but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now. Members from both parties should repudiate his comments.
John Boehner says of the $20 billion fund: "I'm glad that BP has accepted responsibility for their actions."