DEAR JOE BARTON: STOP DIGGING…. Rep. Joe Barton (R) has done a fair amount of apologizing lately. It started with a public apology to BP, which was soon followed by an apology for the apology. The right-wing Texan privately began apologizing to Gulf Coast Republicans, and apologized to his caucus this morning for all the trouble he caused.

And with that last apology, the House Republican leadership decided to let Barton off the hook, treating the whole fiasco as oil under the bridge.

But some of us cynical types can’t help but wonder if maybe Barton isn’t quite sincere about his regrets. Dave Weigel noted this morning that Barton has apparently reversed course on his half-hearted repentance.

Hours after getting a respite from House Republicans, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) has cheekily responded to criticism over his “apology to BP” by tweeting a link to an American Spectator article titled, “Joe Barton was right.”

The article by Peter Hannaford is a robust defense of what Barton said, knocking the Obama administration for “Alinsky” tactics and hatred of business.

Let me try to put this in a way Barton will understand. When a lawmaker is sincerely sorry about an ostensible mistake, and believes he was wrong, he doesn’t turn around hours later to boast publicly that he was right. It’s the kind of move that suggests his apology was made for the sake of political expedience.

Interestingly, Barton’s office scrambled to remove the tweet — it has, of course, been captured with screen-grabs — and the right-wing American Spectator piece is either currently unavailable or has also been removed. It reinforces the notion that Barton probably realizes he’s screwed up — again.

And in the larger context, by one measure, it appears Joe Barton has now unapologized for apologizing for his apology.

Remember, this guy is the leading House Republican on matters related to energy and climate policy. Seriously.

Update: Greg Sargent put it this way: “It’s a head-spinner: Barton apologizes to BP. Then he apologizes for his apology. Then he unapologizes and says he was right all along. And now he’s trying to expunge any sign that he unapologized. Maybe Barton should just stop talking. Plug his damn hole already.”

Second Update: A member of Barton’s staff is now willing to take the blame for the misguided message on Twitter.

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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.