Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP and remarks that the $20 billion escrow fund was a "shakedown" received condemnation from fellow members of the Republican Party last week but 114 members of the Republican Study Committee had signed onto the "shakedown" talking point only days before.
Comedy Central's Jon Stewart wondered Monday what to do when mere mortals and God couldn't solve the problem of oil spewing into the Gulf. "Money. Recently minted mortal Barack Obama got BP to put $20 billion in an escrow account to pay back all those impacted by the disaster," reported Stewart.
But not everybody agreed that the BP fund is a good idea.
"The president and I disagree on this escrow fund," Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said on June 16.
Rep. Michele Bachmann also spoke out against the idea. "There's a misreading of the Constitution and a misunderstanding of jurisdictional limits from this White House. Now it seems that it's all about extortion," she said.
"You broke it, you bought it is not extortion just like give a penny, take a penny is not stealing or philanthropy," quipped Stewart.
Barbour perhaps constructed the most tortured logic about the fund. "It bothers me to talk about causing an escrow to be made which will -- which makes it less likely that they'll make the income that they need to pay us," he said.
"You know, that's not circular logic. That's circle-jerkular logic," said Stewart.
The Republican Study Committee, consisting of 114 members of Congress, put out a statement calling the fund "Chicago-style shakedown politics."
But then Barton came along and ruined a perfectly good talking point by apologizing to BP. "I think it is is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation could be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. So I apologize," said Barton on June 17.
Suddenly, Republicans were stepping all over themselves to disown Barton's remarks.
"The statement that Representative Barton made was wrong," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
"I think that was a dumb statement," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).
"I couldn't disagree with Joe Barton more," Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Fox News' Chris Wallace Sunday.
"The congressman was only speaking for himself. That was not mainstream Republican thought," said Shelby.
At least not anymore, said Stewart. "It was a mainstream Republican thought... It was quoting a memo put out by two-thirds of your caucus," he exclaimed.
UPDATE: (Nicole) The Democratic Party wisely sees this muddled and corporatist message by the Republicans as a gift, and have produced a second ad reminding everyone what governance by the GOP means: