Texas Rep. Joe Barton, who's more or less an employee of the oil industry, delivered an incredible statement to comical BP CEO Tony Hayward this morning, apologizing for the White House's $20 billion dollar "shakedown" fund.

This may go down as one of this year's most out-of-touch statements from a member of Congress, which is permanently out-of-touch anyway. "A tragedy in the first proportion," holy crap:

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) during a hearing on Thursday morning with BP's CEO Tony Hayward." I think it is a tragedy in 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 — with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, which has no legal standing, which I think sets a terrible precedent for our nation's future."

Joe Barton will chair the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee should Republicans take the House this fall.

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Update: Joe Barton has made the White House's day, with his hilarious apology to BP. It didn't take long for them to issue this response:

Statement by the Press Secretary on Congressman Joe Barton's Apology to BP

"What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction. Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy', but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now. Members from both parties should repudiate his comments."