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Do Republicans deserve partial credit for the BP fund?

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who was an oil and gas engineer before he started his career in politics, says President Obama is politicizing the BP escrow fund after having little to do with it being set up.

[T]he real story here is that BP had already made the decision to set aside $20 billion to compensate those harmed by this tragic disaster several days prior to the President’s speech. The true outrage is that this was never the President’s idea at all, and he should be ashamed for pretending it was for political purposes.

On Thursday, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao told me that he pressed BP on the fund idea a month ago, inspired by the example of Exxon after its 1989 spill off the coast of Alaska. And on Friday I talked with Ray McKinney, another engineer, who is running for Congress in Georgia against Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.). McKinney stressed that there was no serious disagreement about the escrow issue, and said Democrats were concocting a political debate when all that mattered was making BP pay and investigating the disaster.

"I think what the government has done has been totally mis-focused," said McKinney. "What I hear when I turn on my radio, is a stupid statement some congressman made, and that's what everyone focuses on. There's a lot of finger pointing and a lot of blame, but everyone agrees we've got to finish the relief well and get to the bottom of why this disaster happened."

Because Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) is getting the most flak on this of anyone not named Joe Barton, here she is trying to explain the difference.

By David Weigel  |  June 18, 2010; 5:29 PM ET
Categories:  Energy  
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