‘JOE BARTON IS NOT THE ISSUE’…. In one of the day’s more entertaining media interviews, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier, and host Joe Scarborough asked a reasonable question related to last week’s infamous apology to BP: “Why is Joe Barton being allowed to keep his job, when Joe Barton apologized to a corporation that is destroying my home town’s economy, and is destroying the environment across the Gulf Coast?”

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Cantor didn’t seem especially interested in addressing the issue — the first part of the interview dealt with Gen. Stan McChrystal being relieved of his command — and the Minority Whip was reduced to repeatedly reminding the audience that Barton apologized. Cantor eventually tried to compare Barton’s apology to Vice President Biden’s occasional gaffes, which only led the co-hosts to point out that Barton’s apology was written down in advance.

Scarborough, to his credit, did not let up: “This hurts the Republican Party. This hurts the Republican brand. Joe Barton is the most powerful Republican on the Hill when it comes to energy policy, and that shows his mindset.”

At least twice, Cantor insisted that Barton “is not the issue.” DNC spokesperson Hari Sevugan, oddly enough, agreed.

“We don’t say this often, but Eric Cantor’s right — Joe Barton’s not the issue,” Sevugan said. “The issue is a broader Republican culture of not just apologizing to the oil industry, but defending them and their other corporate benefactors at every turn and at the expense of middle class families and small businesses. They proved that in their opposition to the President holding BP to account and in their opposition to the President’s call for a new energy policy that ensures we are never again in a position where we are solely reliant on oil and oil companies.

“And just as Republicans showed their allegiance in taking the side of oil companies in the wake of the BP disaster, they proved it taking the side of the insurance companies in the health reform debate and big Wall St banks in the financial reform debate. So, Eric Cantor is right — Joe Barton’s not the illness, he’s a symptom.”

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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.