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Lawmaker who apologized to BP may chair House energy panel

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The Texas lawmaker who apologized to BP for the US government’s insistence that the oil giant set up a fund to compensate oil spill victims may soon be the most powerful voice in the House on US energy policy.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is a leading contender for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a position he held once before, during the 2004-2006 congressional session.

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Barton brought attention to himself in June, when the Obama administration announced that BP would set up a $20-billion escrow fund to compensate businesses and households affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said. “I think it’s 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 with the Attorney General of the United States….”

Barton concluded: “I’m not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize.”

The Texas lawmaker quickly apologized, after his comments were condemned even by fellow Republicans. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he “couldn’t disagree with Barton more,” while Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) called for Barton to lose his position as the ranking Republican on the energy committee.

Now, with the Republicans back in control of House committees in the upcoming session, Barton has announced his desire to chair the committee once more. “I will ask my colleagues for the privilege of serving as chairman of the committee I love, the House Energy and Commerce Committee,” he wrote last week in a column for the Washington Times.

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A BIG BOOST FOR BIG OIL?

As the New York Times noted shortly after the “apology” controversy, Barton “has long been one of the top beneficiaries of campaign donations from big energy companies, cornerstones of the Texas economy.”

“BP and other major players in the oil business might hope for more of [Barton’s] kind of solicitude from the House Energy and Commerce panel,” writes Brett Michael Dykes at The Upshot. Dykes argues that putting Barton back in the Energy and Commerce driver’s seat could be bad politics for the GOP.

The Democrats got plenty of mileage out of Barton’s comments this election season, running ads that stated, among other things, “This is how Republicans would govern.” And in his campaign stops around the country, President Obama often singled out Barton’s potential committee chairmanship as reason enough to vote for Democrats.

“The top Republican on the Energy Committee, you may recall — this is the guy who would be in charge of the Energy Committee in the House of Representatives — apologized after the oil spill to BP,” President Obama recently said at a luncheon in Ohio. “Remember this? He apologized because I had said to BP, ‘you need to set aside $20 billion to make sure that we’re making fishermen and small business owners whole as a consequence of your mistakes.’ This guy, he apologized to BP … Imagine that. That’s what’s at stake in this election.”

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Barton faces competition from Republican Fred Upton, a 12-term congressman from Michigan. Upton said last week he would target the health reform law passed by Democrats earlier this year, and try to dismantle it piece by piece.

“I know there’s going to be a vote to repeal the whole thing if we take over, but in all likelihood we’re not going to have the votes to override,” Upton said. “I look at this a little bit like a Jenga game. It’s a good game with my kids. We’re going to look at the pieces.”

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Dikes notes that Barton can’t win the chair without violating rules limiting tenure (he was chair from 2004 to 2006 and the ranking Republican in the most recent session). He would need a waiver from the Republican leadership to take up the position.


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George Floyd’s brother tears up discussing condolence phone call from Trump: ‘It hurt me’

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The brother of George Floyd described the condolence phone call he received from President Donald Trump during a Saturday interview on MSNBC.

Philonise Floyd was interviewed by the Rev. Al Sharpton on "Politics Nation."

While Derek Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third degree murder, the other three officers involved in the killing remain free.

"They all need to be convicted of first degree murder and given the death penalty," Floyd said.

"What was the conversation with President Trump like?" Sharpton asked.

"It was so fast," Floyd replied.

"He didn't give me an opportunity to even speak. It was hard, I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept like pushing me off, like 'I don't want to hear what you're talking about.' And I just told him I want justice. I said that I couldn't believe they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight."

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Bill Barr slammed by ex-FBI official for ignoring the right-wing ‘Boogaloo Bois’ infiltrating protests

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Attorney General Bill Barr was slammed by the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday for misleading Americans about the source of violence at the protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

"There's evidence developing, Brian, that the organization we're seeing of the most violent protesters is coming from a couple of disturbing places," both, by the way, there's disparate in terms in being from the right or the left. here's what those who monitor these groups and sites are seeing.

"We're seeing a far-right group, one group for example known as the Boogaloo Bois, who on their private Facebook page and social media outlets are calling for violence, calling for people to show up," Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC's Brian Williams.

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Trump is the ‘greatest troll in the history of the internet’ and Twitter needs to ‘pull the plug’: NYT columnist

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President Donald Trump would face an existential crisis if Twitter were to enforce it's own rules and hold him accountable -- and one New York Times columnist wants to see it happen.

"C’mon, @Jack. You can do it," Maureen Dowd wrote, referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with his username on the platform.

She urged Dorsey to "just pull the plug on him."

"You could answer the existential question of whether @realDonaldTrump even exists if he doesn’t exist on Twitter. I tweet, therefore I am. Dorsey meets Descartes," she explained. "All it would take is one sweet click to force the greatest troll in the history of the internet to meet his maker."

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