At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the "shakedown" the oil company received from President Obama.
"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Barton said. "I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or corporation does anything wrong," they are subjected to such political pressure.
The White House immediately shot back with a statement from press secretary Robert Gibbs calling for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to condemn Barton's comments.
"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."
Barton's apology may have come as a surprise to anyone unfamiliar with Barton's positions on energy and climate change. But Barton has a long history of making colorful (not to mention energy industry-friendly) comments on these issues. Here's a sample.
Wind energy could alter wind patterns and aggravate global warming.
"Wind is God's way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it's hotter to areas where it's cooler. That's what wind is. Wouldn't it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I'm not saying that's going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can't transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It's just something to think about."
Humans will simply "adapt" to climate change.
"I think that it's inevitable that humanity will adapt to global warming. I also believe the longer we postpone finding ways to do it successfully, the more expensive and unpalatable the adjustment will become. Adaptation to shifts in temperature is not that difficult. What will be difficult is the adaptation to rampant unemployment -- enormous, spontaneous and avoidable changes to our economy -- if we adopt such a reckless policy as cap-and-tax or cap-and-trade."
Global warming is a "net benefit" to mankind.
"CO2 is odorless, colorless, tasteless - it's not a threat to human health in terms of being exposed to it. We create it as we talk back and forth. So, and if you go beyond that, on a net basis, there's ample evidence that warming generically -- however it is caused -- is a net benefit to mankind."
Barton claimed via Twitter to have stumped Energy Secretary Steven Chu with a "simple question": "How did all the oil and gas get to Alaska and under the Arctic Ocean?" Watch the video for yourself to see if Chu, a Nobel Prize winner, was truly stumped.Sometimes, however, Barton prefers to let his actions do the talking. During a hearing on the Waxman-Markey climate bill last year, Barton read the paper while his former upper-chamber colleague, John Warner (R-Va.), testified.
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