Friday, June 18, 2010

Foot, Meet Mouth: Our Top Six GOP Oil Spill Gaffes


BP isn't standing alone with one foot on the ground and the other in its mouth. Since the spill began in April, Republicans have demonstrated an exceptional tendency to blurt out their inconvenient beliefs about the disaster and the federal response. And we're not talking about backbenchers here -- the dirty talk has come from their most powerful and visible members. From Capitol Hill to the Gulf Coast, we bring you, in chronological order, the top six GOP oil spill slip-ups.

1. Rand Paul
He's since gone into hiding, likely on NRSC orders, but back when the Kentucky Senate hopeful was still flapping his gums (to hilarious effect) on national television, he let slip that he wanted the Obama administration to leave BP aloooooone!

"This sort of, you know 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business," Paul said on Good Morning America last month.


2. Michele Bachmann
Everyone's favorite Minnesota congresswoman took the opportunity of time on the House floor to rip the administration earlier this month, saying that the government was "nowhere to be found" after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded...except, of course, they actually arrived within hours. The kicker though is that Bachmann, scourge of socialism, wondered out loud why the government hadn't "commandeered" privately-owned boats to "deal with that oil plume as it was coming up to the water."

3. Sarah Palin
The former half-term Alaska Governor tried to capitalize on the spill with an unusually awkward "I told you so." Palin tweeted out to "extreme greenies" to gloat that the spill vindicates "Drill, Baby, Drill." With a caveat.

"Extreme Greenies:see now why we push"drill,baby,drill"of known reserves&promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR? Now do you get it?"

Of course, her constant refrain had actually been that America should allow drilling just about everywhere right away. The phrase "Drill, baby, drill!" wasn't shouted with caveats.

4. Haley Barbour
The Mississippi Governor might not suffer politically for it, but he's repeatedly insisted that the oil spill isn't worth fretting over. It "isn't anything like Exxon Valdez," Barbour claims, comparing the crude itself to caramel mousse, toothpaste, and the fuel sheen surrounding speed boats.

5. John Boehner
House Republicans are so accustomed to going to great pains to remain in the good graces of the Chamber of Commerce that their leader even aligned himself Chamber president Tom Donohue over whether taxpayers should pitch in to help BP pay for clean up and damages. That lasted about six hours.

"I think the people responsible in the oil spill--BP and the federal government--should take full responsibility for what's happening there," Boehner said at his weekly press conference on June 10. Later that day, his office was forced to publicly say Boehner believes BP should pay for everything, and last Sunday, he took to the morning shows to back the concept of lifting the $75 million cap on BP's exposure. Still no word on whether that means he'll whip Republicans to vote for that.

6. Joe Barton
The House Republicans' top energy guy didn't get the memo that BP has no (public) friend in the GOP. Yesterday, at a hearing with BP CEO Tony Hayward, Barton accused the Obama administration of perpetrating a shakedown by pressuring BP to set aside $20 billion to cover expected damages. But that was the least of it because, on that point, conservative pundits and the Republican Study Committee fully backed him up. It was his apology to Hayward that unleashed a tsunami of negative press and set leadership scrambling to contain the floods.

"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 shakedown," Barton said. "I'm only speaking for myself, I'm not speaking for anybody else. But I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, is subject to to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize."

Then he (sort of) apologized for apologizing. Then he apologized again, falling on his sword even as party leaders were throwing him under the bus. No word on whether he plans to move to a country where BP could get away with something like this.

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