Friday, June 18, 2010

We're so sorry, Uncle Tony

It was an emotional moment for BP Chairman Tony Hayward yesterday as he tearfully accepted Texas Congressman Joe Barton's heartfelt apology for the "tragedy of the first proportion" that had been perpetrated on his company the previous day by President Obama.

While many of his fellow Representatives prepared to blast the giant international petroleum company's embattled president, Representative Barton courageously voiced what many--if not most--Americans were secretly thinking as the innocent corporate executive was being led to a rhetorical slaughter.

“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Barton said in his opening statement. “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.”

A cautious collective sigh of relief could be heard across the country at these words, beginning with Representative Barton's esteemed Republican colleagues sitting with him on the committee. As the ranking Republican, it is his moral duty to speak up and from the heart; to say what is on his mind, for it is surely on the minds of his constituents as well as most Americans. And, in the thick of the fight, despite irrelevant questions about his connections to big oil, Congressman Barton found the resolve and courage to do his duty.

The pride that most American felt at this profound expression of their deepest sympathies was immediately diminished somewhat by strident cries of discord from the small minority of citizens--not all of them actual Americans, it will be noted--who happen to live in the Gulf area.

Despite the best efforts of elected Republican officials such as Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi to assure the public that nothing more than a few tar balls were actually washing up on the beaches of the Gulf, his calm and reflective message was unable to counter the excessive and obviously hyperbolic claims of a few hysterical shellfish farmers and fishermen.

Also, in spite of Barbour's informed insistence that these intermittent tar balls were "nothing more than we usually see around here" angry residents continued to complain not only that they were being innundated with oil, but that comments such as Barton's and Barbour's did nothing to help them.

Conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank spokesman Ritch Wright disagreed with this assessment, noting that it was the resident's excessive reaction to a minor incident that was actually exacerbating the situation. Worse, he noted, these whiny citizens were totally missing Barton's patriotic point.

"Messing with corporate rights is generally regarded as un-American, at best, and downright socialist at the very worst. You see," Wright explained, "Polls show that American may indeed not like a few tar balls on their beaches, but what they like even less is when somebody messes with their corporate rights. It's clear to us that this is just the opening volley in Obama's overt attempt to render this country into a completely Socialist regime. That's the "tragedy" that this "shakedown' represents."

"It starts by taking away the rights of corporations to do what they need to do," continued Wright. "Shackling these industrial giants, controlling these powerhouses that drive our economy and make it possible for us to have second homes, extra cars and boats by actually regulating them will only diminish us all. Look, if a rising tide raises all boats, then a lowering tide lowers all boats. "

Wright paused, then pressed to his logical conclusion. "All we are saying--all Congressman Barton was saying--is that we have to be respectful to the corporations who have brought us all such unprecedented wealth and prosperity. "Dance with with who brung ya" is the saying in Texas, and God bless him, good old Joe Barton is doing just that."

Wiping away tears in the Congressional hearing room after hearing Barton's sincere apology, Hayward allowed himself a small smile of gratitude as he said "Thank you." His smile was short-lived, for he knew that Barton's was the only kind voice he would hear that day, and possibly for many more days to come.

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