BP’s CEO, Tony (I want my life back!) Hayward is testifying today before a House Committee, and he just received a heartfelt apology from one of his most loyal subjects. Joe Barton (R. Texas) just apologized to BP.

The Republican Party’s quintessential oil Congressman, Barton told Hayward how shameful it was that the Obama Administration would "shake down" BP by demanding that it give up dividends to shareholders and instead set aside a small fraction of their net revenues to the greedy Gulf folks who’ve been only slightly inconvenienced by losing their jobs, their livelihoods, and their environment. Never mind that BP agreed to this on its own, because it knows or fears it’s legal liability may eventually become worse.

I’m so glad Barton, like fellow Republicans Haley Barbour, John Boehner and Michelle Bachmann before him, did that, because I’ve been worried Americans might be giving BP and the oil industry the wrong impression by telling them we expect them to pay for the damages they cause when they’re criminally negligent, kill people, ruin the Gulf and then lie to us about it. This ancient principle of responsibility has run its course and just isn’t American anymore.

Now that the oil industry knows how much we appreciate how they’ve transformed the Gulf into a place safe for unrestricted drilling, it’s now time for Congressional Republicans to apologize, on behalf of a distraught and repentant American people, to Wall Street bankers too. We all deeply regret that their profits took a temporary hit before we came to our senses and made them all fabulously wealthy again. And everyone chipped in to make it up to them — like $14 trillion in lost wealth — especially the 15 million who are unemployed or about to be layed off because Congress thinks firing teachers is the way to increase budget revenues.

And thank the goddess that someone finally showed Obama how to show proper respect to people who don’t have our interests at heart. All that bowing is nothing compared to the on-your-knees performance by Republican Joe Barton.

God Bless BP! And God Bless the Congressmen they bought and paid for! Ain’t American something?


Update: My apologies to Barton! Apparently he was only trying to protect the retirements of small people, like BP shareholder John Boehner:

House Republican Leader John Boehner bought between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in BP, the company responsible for the spill that has spurred an environmental disaster. Boehner, of West Chester, purchased the stock on Dec. 10, four months before the April 20 explosion that set off the spill.

Rep. Mike Turner of Centerville owns between $1,000 and $15,000 in stock in Transocean Ltd., the company that owned the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which was leased by BP and sunk after the explosion, killing 11 workers.

The White House Press Office has a different view:

“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.”

Update II: The Hill: Florida Republican calls for Barton to step down:

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), whose Pensacola district is among the most-impacted areas in the Gulf by the oil spill, condemned Barton for apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a committee meeting on Thursday.

"I condemn Mr. Barton’s statement. Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee," Miller said in a statement. "He should step down as Ranking Member of the Committee.”

Even John Boehner is running away. And David Dayen picks up the story from there: Republicans are in full, modified, limited retreat, sort of, based on a "misconstrued misconstruction."

Open Secrets: Where does Joe Barton’s money come from?
Nancy Pelosi, How come Republicans vote "no" on everything?