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Fox host defends congressman’s ’shakedown’ comment

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Congressman Joe Barton hasn’t had many defenders since his apologized to the CEO of BP at a Congressional hearing on Thursday. But Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney believes the Texas Republican had a valid point in describing White House pressure for BP to establish a $20 billion escrow fund as a government “shakedown.”

“In that White House meeting,” Varney dramatically told the hosts of Fox & Friends on Friday, “reportedly Vice President Biden says, ‘Pay up or else we’ll bring the full court press of the United States government to bear on you and you will pay.'”

“It bypasses the courts,” Varney added. “Liability claims should go through the courts. This time they didn’t.”

As it happens, a fear of precisely the kind of prolonged litigation that occurred after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 was one of the major considerations prompting the creation of the escrow fund. Last week, the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wrote, “The lessons of the Exxon Valdez disaster have made members of Congress increasingly insecure about the promises made by BP to cover the total cost of the damage it’s caused in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) told the Huffington Post that he wants the oil giant to sign a pledge committing itself to covering economic damages that would be legally binding,” Stein continued. “Doing so would fulfill the promises BP has already made, the North Dakota Democrat argued. It would also effectively remove the possibility that the company could drag out questions of liability through decades of litigation — much like Exxon did following its spill in Alaskan waters.”

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Varney, however, appeared to see no motivation for the escrow fund besides political posturing by a federal government that has been unable to deal with BP’s disaster. “The administration wins politically by beating up on BP and taking $20 billion off them,” he stated indignantly. “It also diverts attention from the administration’s own failure to clean up this mess.”

Beyond that, Varney sees in the fund a threat of creeping socialism.

“What happens if BP can’t come up with this $20 billion?” he asked. “Let’s suppose that the administration does, indeed, drive them into bankruptcy. … Essentially, BP becomes nationalized, because part of this $20 billion deal is, ‘If you can’t pay, we get your assets.’ … That $20 billion deal essentially contained a lien on BP North America. Collateral. If you don’t pay, we get the pipeline.”

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Varney’s nightmare scenario does not appear highly likely to occur. Currently, BP appears in online listings as having $240.64 billion in assets, ranking second in its industry only to Exxon Mobil, and its profits for the first quarter of 2010 were $6 billion. Although speculation was rife ten days ago that the Gulf disaster might drive BP into bankruptcy, analysts quickly concluded that BP has the financial flexibility to deal with its liabilities unless “we’re still talking about this in 2011 and the price tag has reached $75 billion or $100 billion.”

Varney, however, warns direly that BP “could yet be forced into bankruptcy. And if they are, then BP is semi-nationalized by the American government.”

This video is from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast June 18, 2010.

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BUSTED: Leaked drug exec emails showed them encouraging opioid abuse to the point people would eat them ‘like Doritos’

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On Friday, the Washington Post published excerpts from a damning series of emails released in a landmark case in Cleveland around the irresponsibility of drug manufacturers and suppliers in contributing to the opioid crisis.

In one email exchange, Victor Borelli, an account manager for pharmaceuticals corporation Mallinckrodt, told KeySource Medical vice president Steve Cochrane that 1,200 bottles of 30mg Oxycodone tablets had been shipped, to which Cochrane replied, "Keep 'em comin'! Flyin' out of there. It's like people are addicted to these things or something. Oh, wait, people are..." and Borelli responded, "Just like Doritos keep eating. We'll make more."

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Here’s the ugly racist history behind tipping — and how it still persists today

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On Saturday, writing for Politico, minister and civil rights activist Rev. Dr. William Barber applauded House Democrats' plans to not only raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, but eliminate the much lower "tipped wage" of $2.13 an hour and require tipped workers to also be paid at least the minimum.

This is important, wrote Barber, because the roots of businesses forcing their workers to rely on tips for a proper wage is deeply rooted in America's history of racial tension.

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Black GOP strategist called on the carpet by Joy Reid for trying to sidestep Trump’s racist rally as ’empowering’ voters

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An "AM Joy" panel on MSNBC descended into talking over each other as host Joy Reid confronted a black GOP consultant over Donald Trump's racist rally in North Carolina.

Presenting the conservative point of view, Republican strategist Lenny McAllister was asked point-blank by the host, "Lenny, hold on a second, because you as a man of color yourself -- do you feel comfortable in a party that does rallies like that?"

McAllister pushed back saying he had walked away from just those type of events, before admitting, "To the greater point. They're using racism as an avenue through which people feel empowered, they lend you the loyalty, they give you the vote. What Republicans need to do is continue to empower people, but not by using racism and not by using phobia."

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