Well, you knew that when real lives are affected by the oil spill in the gulf, it was only a matter of time before some key legislators not only put politics first, but also put Big Oil first. Today, just a day after the White House brokered, frankly, a monumental achievement that will result in BP putting together a $20 billion claims fund to “meet its obligations as a responsible party arising from the Deepwater Horizon spill,” and subsequent announcement that the BP board will not make any first quarters dividends, a chorus of usual suspects has balked at the deal, saying it’s akin to some sort of shakedown.
It’s memetic of many on the far right to characterize Democrats, and particularly the Obama administration, as government thugs, but it’s hard to say whose side they’re on here if it’s not the side of Big Oil. Considering the crisis management mechanism BP has assembled, I’d gamble to say that BP would be the first to say they weren’t bullied into anything here. The mere threat of junk status stocks was likely enough for them to acquiesce, as well as taking the appearance of being good corporate neighbors.
But that’s not enough. Politics, for some key Republicans, has taken precedent over the thousands of workers, families, and wildlife that has been impacted by the spill. This morning, as a House Energy and Commerce Committee were about to hear testimony from BP CEO Tony Hayward, Texas Republican Joe Barton, a ranking member of the Committee, apologized to Hayward, saying “it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”
Even if this is his genuine belief (for which he should be ashamed), how a politician would say something so bald-faced and antagonistic to the people feeling the effects of the spill is beyond me. Even if his blind, pro-business political philosophy were genuine, and not rooted in unabashed opposition to anything the Obama Administration does (which it is), isn’t this, a mutual agreement, the right thing to do, rather than have lawsuits bottlenecked for years costing the taxpayer untold amounts of money?
You want to know something that does make sense when it comes to Barton being a Big Oil apologist? His campaign contributions. He’s taken upwards of $1.5 million from the oil and gas industry over the last 20 years.
So when you hear the right wing try, in breathtaking vain, to characterize the BP claims fund as “redistribution-of-wealth fund” (Rep. Michelle Bachman), a “slush fund” administered to “union activists” and ACORN (Rush Limbaugh), that it will “make them less able to pay us what they owe us” for concerns that BP won’t be able to capital their drill wells (Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour), and Fox News’ inevitable lies (Sean Hannity has already made some nice conjecture, speculating that the fund will be used as a political slush fund), remember who’s side they’re on. Because it’s not yours.