"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. 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."With that heartfelt apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward, Republican Joe Barton neatly pointed out where accountability really lies in Washington.
Joe Barton, a congressman from Texas and chairman of the House-Senate energy conference committee, made his remarkable statement even as millions of gallons of spilled crude threaten to wash up on the shores of his own district - devastating the lives and livelihoods of millions who voted for him.
However, the fate of those voters obviously means less to him than the $1.8 million he's received in campaign contributions from the oil industry, including BP itself.
But Barton's comments do more than just reveal the level of corporate corruption in Washington - they also remind us of who will inevitably end up paying for the mistakes of others - the taxpayers and those affected by the disaster.
When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, thousands of homeowners discovered that their homeowners insurance didn't cover the damage caused.
When floods and storms caused devastation and destruction across Mississippi, many business owners discovered that their Mississippi business insurance neatly circumvented responsibility for any of the specific 'acts of God' which befell their premium payers.
In fact, if you go and look at your Insurance Information right now, you might be alarmed to find out just how much it doesn't cover. In New Jersey - notorious flood territory - many homeowners are distraught when they realize that the insurance premiums they've been paying for years don't actually cover the damage caused by the very eventuality they bought insurance to protect themselves against.
In fact, it's a very good time to remind everybody that when you get a Netquote insurance for business or homeowner's insurance, you need to go through it line by line to see just how much your 'discount premium' might actually cost when disaster arrives.
And we shouldn't be surprised by this. In fact, venerable reader Siger recently reminded me: "The business of insurance is to avoid paying claims."
When it comes to BP and the oil spill devastating the gulf, the question of responsibility is slightly wider. I totally resent Joe Barton's 'apology' to Tony Hayward.
Barton is a Republican who has argued for years that government should be smaller - yet when it comes to the responsibility of paying for history's greatest oil leak, he wants to avoid hurting 'big business' (and his campaign contributors) and so argues that the taxpayer should cover the cost of cleaning the mess up instead of those responsible.
Just to clarify, that means Joe Barton is against government spending when it comes to preventing home foreclosures or protecting thousands of auto worker jobs in Detroit - but he is all for it when it prevents a robustly successful company paying for the damage it alone has caused.
Although while we're on that subject, 'it alone' isn't a fair appropriation of blame for the BP spill.
Siger neatly pointed out that President Obama's swaggering about, alluding to 'whose ass he's gonna kick' has been more about political peacocking than anything constructive - and "British Petroleum," as he incessantly keeps calling BP - hasn't been called that for years.
It's true. I remember going to the headquarters of so-called 'British Petroleum' back in the early nineties and even then it was located in Norway, not Norwich (the guy who showed us around was also called Kris Kristofferson, but apparently wasn't the famous country and western singer.)
Obama neatly avoids mentioning that, or this next point - especially during the World Cup:
BP isn't actually even a British company any more. UK shareholders own 40% of it, but the US holds 39% - making us about even (just like we were in our soccer match!)
And when it comes to responsibility for the disaster itself, it's worth pointing out that the rig which exploded - at the cost of all those lives and the world's greatest oil disaster - is owned and operated not by 'British' BP, but by an American-owned company called Transocean, registered in Switzerland.
And here's the kicker: The company that actually does the drilling on the rig that exploded - the ones ultimately responsible for letting this environmental catastrophe happen - are none-other than Halliburton - the Liberal left wing's version of corporate Lucifer.
Halliburton is the company Bush, Cheney and the Republican party are so deeply involved in that they practically allowed them to sponsor the Iraq War.
Considering it's these 'All-American' companies that will be working to finance the $20 billion 'shakedown' of BP that Rep. Joe Barton complained about, I can see now why that sleazy, corrupt idiot was so anxious to avoid them having to actually pay for it.
It seems like insurance companies aren't the only ones eager to wriggle out of paying their dues.