ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Tex, overshadowed the hotly anticipated Congressional interrogation of BP CEO Tony Hayward when he apologized to the oil man for a $20 billion "shakedown" by the White House, which insisted on an independent fund to pay for Gulf Coast oil damage.
Top Republicans quickly distanced themselves from Barton. The House Minority Leader, Rep. John Boehner, asked if he disagrees with Barton's apology, said, "I do."
But Barton is not alone.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, used similar terminology yesterday when he described the process the White House used to get the fund as "Chicago-style shakedown politics."
“BP’s reported 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," said Price in a statement . "These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this Administration’s drive for greater power and control. It is the same mentality that believes an economic crisis or an environmental disaster is the best opportunity to pursue a failed liberal agenda. The American people know much better.”
But Price didn't apologize to BP.
Other Republicans support the fund.
Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla, commended the creation of the fund on the Senate floor Wednesday.
"We've been asking for this since the beginning of May," said LeMieux. "I'm glad the president got it done. and while I don't always agree with the president, where credit is due, credit should be given and he should be given credit for doing this... getting it done."
Boehner said the White House has failed in other areas, particularly in taking charge of the cleanup effort.
"BP is responsible and is being held responsible," said Boehner. "But the federal government failed the American people as well."