Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill explosion that has caused the ongoing oil spill in the gulf, BP has unleashed such a torrent of lies about the size of the spill and the measures taken to deal with it before and after the fact that they're difficult to catalogue. The company also has a long history of safety violations that predate the spill. Yesterday the White House managed to secure an agreement from BP to set aside a $20 billion fund to help pay for all the damage they've caused.
The White House's tepid initial response to the spill has caused them significant political damage, but it's hard to overstate the incoherence of the GOP's response on the subject, which has been to alternately accuse the White House of being too soft on BP because of their contributions to the Obama campaign or accuse them of trying to demonize corporations. Now that the administration has taken active steps to make sure BP is held responsible for its recklessness, Republicans are accusing the administration of "shaking down" the company. The first Republican to speak during a House hearing on the matter today, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), apologized to BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward for the White House "shakedown":
I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said in his opening statement. “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.
Remarkable. BP's irresponsibility has led to the largest environmental disaster in American history, one that wreak untold havok on the livelihoods of people living in states along the Gulf Coast, but Republicans think holding them accountable for it is somehow beyond the pale. According to Open Secrets, Barton has received $1,448,380 from oil and gas companies over the years, so maybe that explains his hostility to making oil companies pay for the damage they cause. But apoplexy over the idea that corporations that cause ecological disasters should be held accountable seems to be the standard Republican response to the agreement.
The party of personal responsibility seems to think that corporations, while persons, aren't personally responsible for anything.
-- A. Serwer
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