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In the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing today on the BP oil spill, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said something very remarkable: Amidst a committee slamming BP all around, he apologized to the company for the $20 billion escrow account that the Obama administration asked them to create for paying out damages in the case.

"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," Barton said.

I'm speaking now totally for myself, I'm not speaking for the Republican Party, I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives, but myself. But I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday.

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, with the Attorney General of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, that's got not legal standing, and which sets I think a terrible precedent for the future.

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A tea party-leaning Republican candidate in Raleigh, NC has his own theory about what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon's rig on April 20. He's calling for an investigation of his theory, but it might be hard for him to get a proper one one unless the FBI can make Mulder and/or Scully available. You see, according to Bill Randall -- candidate for the Republican nomination in North Carolina's 13th district -- what happened in the Gulf involves a conspiracy between BP and the highest levels of the federal government.

"Personally, and this is purely speculative on my part and not based on any fact, but personally I feel there is a possibility that there was some sort of collusion," Randall told reporters in North Carolina yesterday. "I don't know how or why, but in that situation, if you have someone from a company violating a safety process and the government signing off on it, excuse me, maybe they wanted it to leak."

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BP is ponying up $20 billion for Gulf Spill oil damages. And quite a few Republicans don't like it one bit.

The Obama administration and BP seem to have come to a solution on paying for damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with the $20 billion escrow account to pay out damages to claimants. And since everything that a president does will get attacked by opponents, some Republicans have come out strongly against it -- with the sum total of charges being that it will turn into a political slush fund procured through dirty Chicago thug tactics that will be paid out to ACORN.

• Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) vigorously attacked the idea: "The president just called for creating a fund that would be administered by outsiders, which would be more of a redistribution-of-wealth fund," Bachmann said on Tuesday, also adding that BP should say, "We're not going to be chumps, and we're not going to be fleeced." Bachmann later backtracked on Wednesday, saying that BP should pay for all of the damages involved, but that the fund should not be "an unending pot of money."

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Last night, Stephen Colbert was emphatic that because of the recent discovery of large quantities of minerals in Afghanistan, the U.S. shouldn't leave the region yet. "Afghanistan is about to pay off," he said. "It's like a slot machine we've been warming up for nine years."

Colbert added: "The only other way to get access to that many heavy metals is to buy a Chinese-made baby crib."

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Jon Stewart took a look back at old presidential speeches last night, and realized that the past eight presidents have promised to move the U.S. away from foreign oil toward energy independence. "Fool me once, shame on you," he said. "Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me eight times -- Am I a f--king idiot?"

"F--k it," Stewart decided. "Let's just use oil. You know what? We have to. I will not allow the dinosaurs to have died in vain."

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Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, in an appearance on Fox Business Channel with former Presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), told audiences that she didn't support marijuana legalization because "that would just encourage our young people to think that it was OK to go ahead and use it." Apparently, Palin's parenting involves a lot of "do as I say, not as I do."

Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in 2006 that she smoked marijuana when it was legal in Alaska but didn't enjoy the experience. Her predecessor in the gubernatorial office, Republican Frank Murkowski, inked legislation to recriminalize marijuana possession in the state after more than thirty years.

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The Sunday Times reported this week that Japan, in an effort to secure votes to allow commercial whaling, has bribed small countries with aid packages, plus spending money and prostitutes for visiting officials.

Officials with six countries -- St Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Ivory Coast and Guinea -- were willing to negotiate with an undercover Times reporter posing as a lobbyist, and some revealed their similar dealings with Japan.

"We support Japan because of what they give us," said one senior fisheries official for the Marshall Islands said. The Times also reported that officials are given cash -- up to $1,000 a day -- in envelopes, and call girls are made available in their hotels.

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Finally a reason for liberals to love Sharron Angle?

In a 2004 candidate questionnaire, the Nevada Republican Senate hopeful indicated she was "undecided" on the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 law that expanded the power of police and the government and has long drawn the ire of civil libertarians, according to a copy of the questionnaire obtained by TPM.

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Ten days of constant and often mocking media coverage has done nothing to damage the self-esteem of South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene -- just the opposite.

Time catches up with Greene at his Manning, South Carolina, home as he begins to show signs of megalomania:

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