Ordinarily, it's not that shocking to see a Republican from Texas defend the petroleum industry. But Rep. Joe Barton's comments to BP CEO Tony Hayward today, in which he described it as a "tragedy" that a "a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown", has obviously touched something of a raw nerve, with Republicans already seeking to distance themselves from the comment while Democrats look for ways to exploit it.
Making matters worse for Barton is the identity of the top contributor to his election campaigns. Since 1989, it has been the company Anadarko Petroleum, from which he's received $56,500 in PAC donations and another $90,000 in individual contributions.
Anadarko has been making a lot of news lately, and none of it is good: they're a 25 percent partner in the Macondo Prospect, which was the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion that is causing oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico. Anadarko has also been sent a bill by BP and asked to pay its share of the cleanup costs.