Rep. Joe Barton: I ‘Stumped’ Nobel Prize Winning Scientist


Oh the (rare, but occasionally exceptional) joys of Twitter. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)–the ranking member on the House Energy & Commerce Committee–says (tweets?) “I seemed [sic] to have baffled the Energy Sec with basic question – Where does oil come from?”

He’s referring to Nobel prize winning Energy Secretary Steve Chu, and this exchange.

I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and suggest that–just perhaps!–Barton has misread Chu’s initial response to the question. And also that he doesn’t seem to understand geology as well as the former Stanford physicist who now runs the Department of Energy. But I could be wrong.

Late update: My colleague Eric Kleefeld chimes in to suggest that Barton did stump Chu. In fact, Chu was stumped that this guy Barton (a Congressman) had actually asked that question.


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at