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The Brief: June 18, 2010

Does the GOP have a Joe problem?

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, addresses BP chief executive Tony Hayward at an oil spill hearing in Washington.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Does the GOP have a Joe problem?

Overshadowing a House committee hearing Thursday at which legislators were set to grill BP chief executive Tony Hayward, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, left few unfazed after apologizing for President Obama's call for the company to create a $20 billion escrow account for oil-spill loss claims. “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," said Barton, echoing another Joe whose public repudiation of Obama rankled officials from both sides of the aisle last year.

Yes, by the end of the day, Barton's apology had become this season's "You lie."

But not before Democrats got to pounce and Republicans went on damage control. Vice President Joe Biden, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic National Committee — all a bit gleeful — seized the moment to align Barton with Republicans, and Republicans with Big Oil. Republicans disavowed Barton's comments, with top party leaders, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, calling the congressman's remarks "wrong."

Barton later apologized for his apology (to the already apologetic Hayward). "I regret the impact that my statement this morning implied that BP should not pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions in this incident," Barton said.

But amid the apology fest, some simply saw Barton being Barton. "The attitude behind the [original] remark is not a surprise," Jim Schermbeck, a clean-air advocate and longtime Barton foe, told The Dallas Morning News. "That he actually said it out loud gives me pause about his political radar these days."

For Republicans now, not unlike BP, it looks like it's a matter of containment.

CULLED:

  • State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, is under fire for driving a Mercedes owned by a company that conducts millions of dollars in business with the state. Incidentally, she also sits on the House Transportation Committee.
  • Former rivals Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison had a political Kumbaya moment this weekend, with the senator endorsing the governor's gubernatorial re-election bid. But some embittered Hutchison supporters, as conventional wisdom might have predicted, still can't stomach that — and they've turning to Bill White.
  • A push — spearheaded by lawmakers, who may or may not hold any sway in the Big 12 drama that just won't go away — is under way to get the University of Houston a spot in the league.

"What does Carol Kent think I did at the Heritage Foundation? Did she think I was a janitor?" — Texas House candidate Stefani Carter on her Democratic opponent's allegations that Carter has misrepresented her work history

MUST-READ:

Texas judge to answer charges today of closing office to man on death rowThe Associated Press

Face Off: The Short Fall — The Texas Tribune

Afghans at language school go AWOLSan Antonio Express-News

No resolution on revenue from Big 12 exitsAustin American-Statesman

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