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Limbaugh defends Barton's 'shakedown' comment

Thursday's lightning-speed back-down from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) -- I've independently confirmed that he was told by GOP leadership to reverse his "apology" to BP or lose his ranking member status on the House energy committee -- has not quieted down conservatives who are angry about the administration's handling of BP and don't have to face voters. Case in point: Rush Limbaugh. Discussing Barton's comments, Limbaugh repeatedly called the fund a "shakedown," worried that it was a plot by Obama to "redistribute that money to ACORN, to his union supporters," and responded to listeners who weren't buying this spin.

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, I find myself apparently in a minority position, just as you do, too. I checked the e-mail during the break, and I got a lot of e-mails. "How dare you defend BP? Are you nuts? Do you want the Democrats to win the election? You gotta jump on BP. There's no defending BP!" I'm not defending BP. I'm standing for the rule of law. We have a legal system to ensure that corporations are held accountable. We have free market aspects that ensure that in civil and criminal matters. We have a legal system to deal with it. Now the executive branch has just said the legislative branch, the judicial branch, neither matter. We're just going to come in and we are the law. Take over a private industry, the auto industry. If they want to, they can do it. I'm not defending BP here. I'm trying to defend the US Constitution, the American way of life, American exceptionalism, what it was that made this country great.

Republicans are doing a good job of controlling this message, but the fact is that this idea that President Obama is engaging in "Chicago-style" tactics to control industry after industry is deeply, deeply ingrained among conservatives.

By David Weigel  |  June 18, 2010; 11:09 AM ET
Categories:  Energy  
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