BP Spill, Chapter 2: Joe Barton’s Hour

Okay, so far, BP’s Tony Hayward said “I want my life back” and his Chairman referred to the victims of the spill as “small people,” redefining the term “patronizing.”  These gaffes follow the appalling decision by some BP sycophant to pump out the mud and let the world record oil and gas volcano blow up and burn while somebody in Rome (uh, actually London) kept fiddling.

Called before a Congressional committee, Tony Hayward, who may not know a drill bit from a pencil lead, sat numbly through a crucifixion.  He took the job and he took the pay; no sympathy here.  But, I would like to know: what drugs did BP use to anesthetize him before the hearing started?  It was an effective cocktail.  Was Michael Jackson’s physician called in?  Maybe he has been anesthetized for years, given his lack of attention to the petroleum side of this huge …. duh, hello, do I hear a ringing sound, yeah, can I call him back…. petroleum company.

Having a day job (transparency here) working for oil and gas operators and contractors, I had to tear myself away from the House hearings after the first 45 minutes and dash off to the office.

But not soon enough.  I watched in disbelief as Texas Republican Joe Barton castigated the White House for a “shakedown” of BP to set up the $20 billion compensation fund.  Unfortunately for any rational view of the  delicate politics of oil production and regulation, this guy takes contributions from oil and gas companies (that’s okay) and then embarrasses his supporters, industry, Gulf Coast residents, sentient creatures and even BP by his ridiculous assertions (making said contributions look very much not okay).

My dog ran over to the neighbor’s yard this morning and committed an indiscretion.  Joe Barton, stunning just about everyone equipped with sight and hearing, just did the same thing.  After that, how could I discipline my dog?  Could I get some help to stick Joe’s nose in the mess and say “bad dog?”

(After I wrote this on June 17, I watched the news and saw that fellow Republican John Boehner,the minority leader,  and others had done just that to Mr. Barton.)

When I was young my parents bought me a children’s book, including a story about someone who was not so smart, and the text was meant to include the word “idiot”, but there was a typo, so for many years I thought there was a category of people who were even more incapable of paying attention than mere idiots; they were, omg, “iodots”.  There were idiots and then there were iodots.

Barton is an iodot.

There are plenty of decent, sincere, caring people who work for oil and gas companies, including BP. There are good people who depend on dividends from oil and gas companies for their retirement income.  Many governmental entities depend on oil and gas companies for property tax and production tax and royalty income.  I would like to see these people protected while safety and environmental requirements are appropriately enforced.  Sometimes we have heated debates about some of these issues.  In the coming months there will be debates about safety and regulation.  I hope that those debates include more light than heat.  And I hope that the iodot Joe Barton is sent to sit in the corner, because he has nothing to contribute.

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