Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas) was heavily criticized from both sides of the aisle last week for publicly apologizing to BP chief Tony Hayward.
"I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Barton said to Hayward, referring to the White House’s decision to demand that the oil giant set up a $20 billion account to help repay the victims of the disaster.
Barton’s condemnation of the hard stance taken toward BP evoked critical responses from Democrats and Republicans alike, all of whom demanded that the Texas congressman retract his apology, which he eventually did.
Democratic leaders quickly took advantage of Barton’s BP apology, running television ads showcasing his statement.
During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel referred to the gaffe as a "political gift," and said that the apology is a prime example of the GOP’s affinity to protect big business.
"I think what Joe Barton did is remind the American people, in case they’ve forgotten, this is how the Republicans would govern," said Emanuel. "They see the aggrieved party here as BP, not the fishermen and the communities down there affected" by the spill.
Emanuel also took the opportunity to ridicule the comments made by Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, who referred to President Obama’s criticism of BP as "un-American."