Barton apologizes 

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the ranking member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, has just now apologized for calling the $20 billion fund set aside by BP a “shakedown” earlier today.

“I want the record to be clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident,” Barton said, after questioning BP CEO Tony Hayward. “And if anything I said this morning has been misconstrued in opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction.”

Barton has been roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for apologizing to Hayward at the outset of the hearing for the deal struck with the White House on Wednesday in which the company agreed to set aside the money in a special fund that would be administered by a third party. At least one Republican has called for Barton to lose his top seat on the Energy and Commerce panel and GOP leaders have distanced themselves from his remark.

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