BP’s CEO Plays Dumb During Congressional Hearings

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee convened Thursday for a hearing on “The Role Of BP In The Deepwater Horizon Explosion And Oil Spill,” a satisfying occurance for outraged Americans who have watched millions of gallons of oil flow unchecked into the Gulf of Mexico for eight weeks and counting.

The headlining act during the hearing was BP’s CEO Tony Hayward, an executive that has appeared in the media many times during this ordeal, often uttering phrases some considered damaging to the stoic public relations front the company has worked so hard to maintain.

Although several protestors, bearing large images of befouled wildlife and shouting accusations at Hayward, had to be quieted before the meeting even started, that didn’t stop lawmakers engaging in more than an hour of criticism of BP’s actions before Hayward got his turn to talk.

This public rebuke was broken only by Republican Joe Barton of Texas, who seemed to think that although they facilitated the worst environmental disaster in American history, BP has endured enough.

“I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation that does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to a shakedown,” said Rep. Barton.

The “shakedown,” Barton said, was President Obama’s insistence that BP set up a $20 billion fund for claims filed by Gulf Coast victims; a fund that would be paid out without the oil giant’s supervision.

Barton, by the way, has received $317,000 from the oil and gas industry donations since 2007. Most of the members on the committee have received a total of $1 million-plus since the start of last year — $1.316505 million since Jan. 2009. Eleven took no money (CBS News).

NOTE: Barton has since been forced to apologize for his…um…apology to BP.

Democrats on the committee chose to save their sarcasm for Hayward himself, who displayed alternating expressions of sorrow and complete confusion. Well coached by BP lawyers, Hayward deflected all the questions about allegations that the company cut corners and ignored safety measures to save money- something that many have said led to the April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon.

“Your answer 65 times that ‘you don’t know’ doesn’t leave us with confidence,” snapped Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont.

One of the only straight answers Hayward promptly provided during the hearing led Rep. Mike Doyle, D-, Pa. to consider changing his career choice:

“My compensation last year was recorded, I think, at $6 million dollars,” said Hayward.

“Those of you at the top don’t seem to have a clue about what was going on on this rig. I’m sitting here thinking I could be the CEO of an oil company. It pays a little bit better than being a member of Congress,” Doyle replied.

The only encouraging conclusion to come out of the hearing is the fact that BP’s complete mishandling of the Gulf oil spill crisis is that it may support President Obama’s demand that the MMS play a stronger role in regulating the actions of the oil industry, which in past years has been allowed to buy off inspectors and virtually regulate itself.


Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.

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Image Credit: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters


Antony T.
Antony T.8 years ago

BP already accepted responsibility for the clean up, America misinterprets as accepting blame, before even asking the right questions to see who was at fault, and you need to ask why no CEO will answer to any American hearing ?, and moreover,the right to say who should be getting repayment by way of compensation hasbeen removed from BP's control, no wonder there is so much fraud in the claims, made for lost income, at a time when it is becoming clear that the stories of disaster were just that, fairy tales told to frighten children, but America has gained a $20,000,000,000 honey pot, for its voters, and I bet the biggest and baddest loudmouths, will gain votes,come the elections, and their partners in this crime, will have their hunting and fishing lodges by Canadian lakes, where you and I can not walk anymore by the years end.

The simple truth is that there is no more than lip ervice paid to justice, or the innocence of the accused, in America anymore, once politicians or lawyers see profit in it for themselves, add the press, and you guarantee the conviction, before even asking the questions, to find the truth.

Americans should rightly feel ashamed today, for this whole unseemly episode of greed, dishonesty and the feeding frenzy of the manipulators of truth,they elect or hire to office, or buy the second hand rags of the common presstitutes, on the streets,is there one person left in America who knows the meaning of the words, ethics, propriety, or honesty ?

Antony T.
Antony T.8 years ago

Most politicians do not know what the hell they are talking about or even who does what, until after the mess has hit the fan, either. Once again people, BP, is NOT a "British company", it is almost entirely owned by AMERICA, and majority run by American workers,and management, the only aspect that can be considered as British is the headquarters in London, so American, shareholders can avoid American taxes, as "offshore investments"....so no taxes !!!

This a circling of the client groups of sharks relatives, a class of people that I would avoid like the plague, or at least count my rings, if they shook my hand, scum sucking lawyers, and politicians, who it seems were asleep when all this was forseeable, yet still want to profit from stoking the xenophobia of the American people, and their purpose is not correcting BP's errors, but covering their own, and profitting from them, as well.

There is an unhealthy degree of dishonesty in all that is going on here, and it is clear that these people feel no shame or decency, or any understanding of the fact that most of the questions that were posed at this "hearing/lynch party" were not answerable by any CEO, of any company, while they are dealing with a disaster, answers come only after investigation, in the real world, not the fantasy gameshow that they want to inhabit for their own benefit, vomit inducing, this whole spectacle.

Shame on America, for all the hysteria, and hatred of all that is not seen as "American"

Dave Tohunga
Dave te tohunga8 years ago

Drown the scumbag in his own oil and then set fire to it... and all those corrupt politicians that protected these scumbags starting with Dick Chaney and George Bush.
Do these parasites deserve any better a fate than the millions of creatures and even entire species that they have destroyed?
Do these evil scum deserve any better than the innocent people killed whose countries they organise military coups in, in order to steal the resources there?
I think not

Susan N.
Susan N8 years ago

He belongs home. No one takes responsibility these days, if you do, there goes your money! And isn't that what its all about money.

Stephen G.
Jason T8 years ago

Way to stick it to them Rep. Welch! Doyle got em good to. Now we need to really nail them and make them pay as much as possible for the damages done. Hopefully BP will be the ones suffocating to death when this is all over.

James C.
James C8 years ago

The sad thing about all this is congress will do absolutly nothing in the end just like nothing got done to AIG ya you rember them the took the economy down and noone was ever held accountable. BP promised 20 billion to the gulf coast . how much of that do you think will actually triclke down past all the corruption there. And they havent even capped the spill yet 20 billion is a joke just like Tony hayward and eventualy when all is said and done Congress and there apologies to BP.

Jack T.
Jack T8 years ago

Has anyone ever been involved in a traffic accident? Even when it is obvously your fault, what does your insurance company say about such situations? DO NOT ADMIT LIABILITY!
But it is interesting that NONE of the US companies involved seem to have even been asked a single question let alone been blamed for anything!

bob m.
bob m8 years ago

Tim V. Have you ever been around corporate types; listen to their phoney bellicose laughter as they nurse their brandy snifters?
So; we're talking about;
Well, in most cases;I think you might be looking on another planet.

Tim V.
Timothy V8 years ago

If Hayward's performance is a true indication of his competence, his days as head of BP must be numbered. If true, it is mouthwateringly incredible. If however he is as clever, as getting to the top of one of the biggest international companies would suggest, then his claim of ignorance before the Committee must have been contrived - presumably on the best legal advice - to avoid admissions of responsibility and culpability at all cost.

bob m.
bob m8 years ago

Ok ; he says as he looks around himm at all the faces of those rolling in oil money and smokey lifestyle.
I 'm your fool for the day.

Tommorrow we got a new car coming out guys; new highways, less green, less life, more competition, faster, everything.
see ya at next months meeting .
Where's my snuff.?