Thursday, June 17, 2010

24/7 News Cycle Class 101 On Stupid Comments By VIPs Who Speak With Forked Tongues

 Rap. Rap. Rap. Attention class. Let's get something straight in this era of 24/7 news. Grownups say stupid things.

Two examples.

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said he was sorry the Deepwater Horizons oil spill damaged the livelihoods of  the "small people" on the Gulf coast.

Then he said he was sorry that his choice of words were "clumsily" expressed.

Class, give the guy a break. English is his second language, if not the third, fourth or fifth. So, lighten up.

Example two which is today's major topic of discussion. Listen carefully and take notes.

Congressman Joe Barton, whose second language is English because he's from Texas, said the Obama administration's ability to force BP to establish a $20 billion trust fund to ensure payments of claims from Gulf residents amounted to a "shakedown."

His exact words at House committee meeting were:

"I'm speaking totally for myself, I'm not speaking for the Republican party ... but I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday."

He called it "a tragedy of the first proportion, that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, a $20 billion shakedown."

Class, essay No. 1. Did he mean it?

But, wait. He apologized. He said "shakedown" was too tough a term even for a tough Texan. He meant to say the government should have used legal, constitutional, avenues to ensure paying the claims.

Class, Essay No. 2, and it is okay to keep your answer to one word. How many legal paths did the government have to insist BP establish an escrow account.

Now, get this class, Barton unlike most Texans, apologized for telling BP he apologized for the "shakedown" and retracted his early BP apology for the embarrassment he felt his government put the oil giant in.

Class, Essay No. 3. What changed Barton's mind.

Here's some clues.

Minority leader John Boehner's office said the "shakedown" comment was wrong and does not represent the sentiments of the Republican Party. Translation: With the midterm elections approaching, Republicans don't want to be cast as friends of BP responsible for the nation's worst environmental disaster.

Right now, BP are the bad guys. But, class, you wouldn't know it in our 24/7 system of endless news flashes featuring Republican talking points.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana said:

"The oil spill in the Gulf is this nation's largest natural disaster and stopping the leak and cleaning up the region is our top priority."

Now, class, listen to this and tell me if it doesn't have a familiar ring to it.

On Wednesday, NBC News noted Republican Tom Price of Georgia, saying:

BP's willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama Administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics.

Class, do you detect a trend here? Oh, I almost forgot, that escrow account. It's now a political football, referred to as a "redistribution-of-wealth fund" by Republican phrase-maker Michele Bachmann. Rush Limbaugh calls it a "slush fund."

Now, the conspiracy minded element in this  24/7 news cycle is dog-piling on top of Barton with the Center for Responsive Politics saying he has collected $1,447,880 from political action committees and individuals connected with the oil and gas industry since 1989.

Hold on one cotton-picking moment. The Federal Elections Commission reports BP is stingy when it comes to Barton, donating a paltry average of $1,350 annually since 1990. Public Campaign figures a grand total of $27,000 to Barton from BP since 1985.

That's it class. Turn in your papers when the bell rings.

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