Rep. Issa Crops Out The Truth To Advance A Partisan Sound Bite

June 02, 2011 3:45 pm ET — Brian Powell

In a desperate effort to gain traction for his theory that President Obama is deliberately trying to raise gas prices, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is now taking an Obama administration official, United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, wildly out of context in order to squeeze his statement into Issa's predetermined narrative.

In an Oversight Committee hearing this week titled "Making The Gulf Coast Whole Again: Assessing The Recovery Efforts Of BP And The Obama Adminstration," Issa tossed a conspiratorial softball into the wheelhouse of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R):

ISSA: Governor, I'm going to put up on the board a quote from Secretary Salazar for your comment. And I'll read it: "There is no question that the suspension of deepwater drilling will have a significant negative economic impact on direct and indirect employment in the oil and gas industry, as well as other secondary economic consequences."

BARBOUR: That's correct.

ISSA: But he did it anyway.

BARBOUR: That's correct.

ISSA: Can you explain why somebody would know that it was going to hurt economically — by the way, he follows that up, which isn't on this quote. He follows that up by noting that there's an extremely good history of safety in the oil industry.

Barbour responded by echoing Issa's theory that the moratorium was part of an intentional effort to increase the cost of gas. Watch:

However, Issa has taken Salazar's quote, which comes from a lengthy memo on the costs and potential dangers of maintaining unfettered deepwater drilling operations in the immediate aftermath of the BP oil disaster, completely out of context. The full quote considers the economic consequences of a moratorium against the greater economic consequences of another oil spill.

From the Salazar memo:

There is no question that a suspension of deepwater drilling will have a significant negative economic impact on direct and indirect employment in the oil and gas industry, as well as other secondary economic consequences. These economic impacts must be considered against the backdrop of the substantial economic effects associated with the on-going BP Oil Spill and the potential economic damage that would be caused by another deepwater accident under the current circumstances. Therefore, while the economic effects of any drilling suspension — in terms of employment, spending, energy production, and government revenues — are and will be significant, another accident or oil spill would exacerbate the BP Oil Spill's effects on the economy and deal an unacceptable blow to the industry and the environment.

Salazar's memo indicates that a number of options were weighed, and the moratorium was deemed the safest. Issa conveniently ignores the reality of oil production risks in the Gulf of Mexico, in which there were 79 reported "loss of well control" accidents between 1996 and 2009.

Issa went on to take his conspiratorial conjecture a step further, suggesting the administration's oil spill response may be part of a larger sinister scheme to punish southern states for being hostile to unions and organized labor.

With no substantive "scandals" being uncovered by his Oversight Committee, Issa seems to be getting desperate to concoct his own nefarious designs to pin on the Obama administration.

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