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Blaming America 

When a black president defends the American people against a giant oil company, vilification by Republicans is pretty much assured.

During congressional hearings on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized to BP, the company responsible for the disaster. Non-Republicans thought BP should be doing the apologizing, but Barton professed outrage that BP, after meeting with President Obama, had agreed to establish a $20 billion fund to pay damages.

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House," Barton said, apparently referring to a president favoring Americans over corporations. That didn't happen during the Bush administration. (Bush, Cheney, Barton — Texans may be the worst of all Republicans.)

"It is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown," Barton went on. The revelation that he's accepted huge campaign contributions from the oil industry — $1.5 million, more than any other House member — was entirely expected. If it can be said that President Obama is shaking down oil companies, it can surely be said that oil companies are bribing congressmen. Every Democratic candidate this fall — every Joyce Elliott, every Blanche Lincoln — should point out that her opponent belongs to a party that indulges people who say America should apologize for being victimized.

Over-protective

Malcontents keep dreaming up "rights" that don't exist in the Constitution — the right to text while driving, the right to smoke at the zoo, the right to talk during movies. The Rev. Bobby Clark of Mansfield believes there's a right not to feel awkward, at least for some Americans.

"I don't think we need the gays in the military," Clark told a national meeting of Southern Baptists. "I just think it puts them [heterosexuals] in a very awkward situation." Clark is the pastor of Abbott Baptist Church, but he talks like a trial lawyer scrabbling for new things to sue over. Imagine if we could file lawsuits against all the people who'd made us uncomfortable. The snooty blonde in sales, the people at the next table talking too loudly about matters too personal, might get their comeuppance, yes. But our judicial system would collapse from overwork. Anarchy would prevail. Anarchy is worse than awkwardness. Brother Clark and his congregation could stand instruction in the liberties that we as Americans possess, and the ones that we don't. The ACLU would be willing to fill the pulpit at Abbott Baptist Church some Sunday, and for only a modest love offering.

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