Every once in awhile an elected official just lets loose with what they really think. It's actually quite healthy. The latest was Republican House member Joe Barton of Texas, who apologized to the BP CEO (remember him? The one who wants his life back?) for what he called a White House "shakedown": "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," deeming it "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. "I apologize," Barton told BP CEO Hayward. "I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is -- again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize." As the old song goes -- which side are you on? Not our side, to be sure. Mr. Barton has taken more than $1.4 million in political contributions from the oil industry, so there is little doubt whose side he is on. THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW ABOUT JIM BARTON IS THAT HE WOULD BE THE NEXT CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE IF THE REPUBLICANS REGAIN CONTROL OF THE HOUSE IN NOVEMBER ELECTIONS. That is the committee that writes any legislation governing matters like global warming or energy policy. A man with a future like that is worth investing in. Particularly in an era where corporations can now make unlimited contributions to influence elections. Mr. Barton simply did not know when to keep his mouth shut and let the American people in on exactly whose interests he represents in Congress. Thank you, Mr. Barton. Keep talking.