Joe Barton: Third Time’s a Charm?
I really can’t name that many U.S. Representatives off the top of my head. The Texas delegation, yes, but I need Google to list you some Montana or Nebraska reps. If you’re not a major player (ie John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi or hell, John Dingell) or a Texas rep, I just can’t keep it in my head.
Luckily for Texas, however, I think most Americans will soon be able to name quite a few of our guys. After all, they’re always making national headlines. In fact, in terms of anti-administration sentiment, they’re second only to that guy who said “You lie!” (See? Still can’t remember the name.)
First came Louie Gohmert in September. Unlike Joe Wilson (thanks internet), the South Carolina rep who screamed “You lie!” while the president addressed a joint session of Congress, Gohmert took a more low-key approach: he held a homemade sign saying “What Bill?” Since he stayed quiet, the incident had a bit of homespun appeal. Nothing too fancy or outrageous for our own Mr. Gohmert. (Except when he talks about gays in the military, that is.) And since Wilson shouted, Gohmert certainly seemed to be the cool-headed Obama protester.
Well, that was it. The moment of fame for our Republican delegation. Oh! Wait. That’s right.
A few months later, March rolls around. And it turns out the Dems had a “plan” and a “bill” and Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan was going to step aside and let the bill pass, despite his concerns about whether it might fund abortions. (Incidentally, Stupak’s a perfect example. Tell me you’d heard of him before the healthcare debacle.) Stupak gets up to speak to the House in favor of the bill and good old Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer decides to shout “Baby Killer” at the Michigander. Well, he says he shouted “It’s a baby killer!” But more to the point, he ensured, at least for the next week, that people would actually bother to learn how to pronounce his last name.
Okay. Well the healthcare debate in the House is over (for now) and these Texans can fade into the woodwork or plaster or whatever the US Capitol walls are made of. Business as usual.
HA! Fooled you!
We’ve got one more trick up our sleeve. Today, as the BP execs came to make promises and say sorry to the House, Rep. Joe Barton saw one more chance. As BP CEO Tony Hayward discussed the new, $20 billion fund for victims of the catastrophic spill, Joe Barton offered something that was surely unexpected—his own apology.
“I apologize,” he said. “I do not want to live in a country where anytime a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure, that is again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown.”
The crowd didn’t exactly go wild. In fact, the House GOP leadership offered a statement that “Congressman Barton’s statements this morning were wrong.” Soon after, Barton not only offered his own apology but said he would “retract my apology to BP.” (I know that trick! I used to do that to my little sister when my parents made us “makeup” after a fight.)
Well luckily we’re back in the national press. Soon, everyone will know the Texas congressmen better than their own. But if we’re gonna keep this up, let’s hope Ralph Hall has some tricks up his sleeve.