BARTON’S APOLOGY TO BP SPARKS UPROAR…. Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) public apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward this morning only looks more stunning upon further reflection. Democrats throughout Washington can hardly seem to believe their good fortune, and Republicans don’t seem to know what to do.

At this point, some in the party are actually defending him. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, conceded that he “shares” Barton’s “concerns.”

“I think it’s good that there’s going to be some money there, I don’t know whether it’s going to be enough money to pay all the claims. They should pay the legitimate claims. But the part that Representative Barton is expressing some concern about, that I share the concern, is this has really become a political issue for the President and he’s trying to deal with it by showing how tough he’s being against BP. The problem is BP’s the only one who really is in control of shutting down this well, and he’s trying to mitigate, I think, his own political problems.”

Would it be terribly rude to note that Cornyn’s response makes no sense? Obama secured $20 billion for the victims of BP’s disaster, and for Cornyn, the relevant question is whether this mitigates the president’s “political problems”?

While Cornyn is sympathetic to Barton, other Republicans are more anxious to throw him under the bus. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), whose Pensacola district is already feeling the brunt of the spill, announced today that he’d like to see Barton step down as the ranking member of his committee. (Note: if Republicans retake the majority, Barton is currently positioned to be the next chairman of the House Energy Committee.)

“I condemn Mr. Barton’s statement,” Miller said in a written statement. “Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He should step down as Ranking Member of the Committee.”

Politico reports that Barton’s apology has caused a bit of a panic in Republican circles. “People are calling for his head,” said a GOP member of the committee.

The report added that Republican lawmakers are “hunkered down” in Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office today, discussing Barton.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.