Ever since President Obama convinced embattled oil giant BP last week to put $20-billion into an escrow account for claims arising from the company's catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Republicans have become the company's apologists and defenders instead of fighting for the victims facing financial ruin as a result of the environmental disaster.
As boneheaded a political miscalculation as possible, Republicans have let their extremist pro-business ideology win out over common sense, political expediency and patriotism. Their mantra has become, screw Americans who've lost their jobs, their businesses, and their hopes...it's BP we care about, not you.
This right wing foot-in-mouth-disease surfaced last month when Tea Party king Rand Paul, Kentucky's GOP primary winner, criticized Obama's tough talk: "What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.’ I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."
The reprehensible rhetoric ratcheted up last week during the Congressional hearing over the spill: "I’m ashamed at what happened in the White House yesterday," said Rep. Joe Barton (Tx), the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown...I apologize." That's right, he apologized to BP. Voters should know that, if Republicans recapture the House in November's midterms, Barton would become chairman of the committee that serves as the watchdog for the environment. The proverbial fox would be guarding the hen house.
Rep. Tom Price (Ga), chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, echoed Barton's concerns in criticizing the administration's handling of the BP escrow fund. "BP’s reported willingness to go along with the White House’s new fund suggests that the Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics."
Regurgitating more disingenuous talking points, Tea Party co-queen Rep. Michelle Bachmann(MN) called the $20-billion a "redistribution-of-wealth fund." She added that the fund is "yet one more gateway for more government control." She also said that BP "shouldn't have to be fleeced" for the fund. Bachmann's partner in Tea Party gaffery, Sarah "Drill Baby Drill" Palin, believes "We can't afford to demonize" BP. Ya gotta hand it to these two: it's getting harder and harder to tell who's dumber.
On Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, "What's worse, the moratorium (on offshore drilling) or the effects of this spill on the region? Incredibly, Barbour replied, "The moratorium....It's not only bad for the region but it's bad for America." It doesn't seem to phase Barbour that there's still no explanation for the Deepwater Horizon explosion which killed 11 workers and is spewing 60,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf each day with no end in sight, killing off wildlife, destroying marshes and wreaking financial havoc on oil riggers, fisherman and local businesses. Barbour, like his neighbor to the West, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, just wants to keep drilling. More drilling, with less regulation. Jindal, in fact, is part of a lawsuit to end Obama's moratorium.
The unconscionable Republican defense of BP continued Monday with media blowhard Rush Limbaugh charging that "This is just another bailout fund called something else, and we'll see who gets it....This is going to be used as a little miniature slush fund."
Democrats owe a big fat thank you to Limbaugh and his Republican Party. Because in what was shaping up to be a very challenging election year, the GOP's made the decision a whole lot easier for voters, especially residents of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, whose lives have been upended by the spill. Voters will have a clear choice between the party of BP apologists and defenders or the party that's fought for them and secured $20-billion for claims. It's Big Oil vs. the little guy. And Republicans have clearly shown who they stand with.
As White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said on ABC's This Week Sunday, "Elections are about choices...I think what Joe Barton did is remind the American people, in case they've forgotten, this is how the Republicans would govern."
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