Top Republican joins chorus calling for Rep. Barton to step aside

Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) added his name to the list of Republicans calling on Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) to step aside as ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce committee.

The Gulf Coast lawmaker, incensed that Barton apologized to BP oil company at Thursday's high-profile hearing, released a statement on Friday saying that Barton's comments "sadly fall short of an appropriate response."

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In that statement Bonner, the ranking member of the House ethics panel, revealed that he talked to Barton on Friday morning.

"As I told him, I believe the damage of his comments are beyond repair and, as such, I am today calling on Joe to do the right thing for our conference and immediately step aside as Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee," Bonner said in the statement.

Bonner, a member of House Minority Leader John Boehner's inner circle, has been characterized as one of the "calmest guys in the legislative body."

Not so on Friday. 

"There is no other way to say it… Joe’s comments were stupid and extremely insensitive to the hundreds of thousands of people who live along the Gulf Coast – many in my district – who are literally watching their way of life be destroyed by this catastrophe," Bonner's statement read.

After threats from House GOP leaders on Thursday that he should "apologize, immediately," Barton said his comments were "misconstructed."

Barton added that he regretted any confusion over his comments calling a White House meeting with BP heads a "shakedown" after BP agreed to create a $20 billion escrow account for residents affected by the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

Barton aides did not comment on this story.