Key House Republican: If gaffes were reason to resign, Biden would be gone

If gaffes were a legitimate reason to resign, Vice President Joe Biden would already be out of office, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said Thursday.

The second-ranking House Republican, Cantor (Va.) appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he was repeatedly asked why House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) was allowed to keep his job after making controversial comments in front of BP executives at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week. Cantor compared Barton's gaffe to one of Biden's many offhand remarks, noting the vice president still has his job.

"If the standard for resignation was a YouTube moment or an inappropriate statement, wouldn't you think the vice president would be handing in his letters twice a week?" Cantor asked host Joe Scarborough.

Biden has made verbal miscues throughout his career; his most notable gaffe as vice president may have been when he whispered into President Barack Obama's ear while next to a live mic that passing healthcare reform legislation was a "big f--king deal."

But Democrats and many Republicans have hammered Barton for apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward, the head of the company responsible for the Gulf oil spill, saying that the government engaged in a "shakedown" against the company by making it fund a $20 billion escrow account to pay claims.

Democrats painted his comments as representative of the Republicans' attitude toward Big Oil, while GOP leaders demanded that Barton apologize to keep his job, which he did.

But Barton came into the spotlight again Wednesday after his office tweeted a link to an article defending the congressman's comments, seeming to undercut his apology.

Cantor said that Barton personally did not know that the tweet was sent out. Barton's communications director acknowledged that he sent it out without the congressman's knowledge.

Nonetheless, the Virginia lawmaker reiterated that people have overplayed Barton's comments.

"Joe Barton is not the issue. Joe Barton apologized," Cantor said. "Some people want to make Joe Barton the issue, but the issue, as you say, are the beaches in Pensacola and the economy that's being battered and the environmental disaster of epic proportions in the Gulf. That's the issue, and how we stop this gushing of oil. That's the issue, not Joe Barton. Joe Barton was wrong — I said Joe Barton was wrong on this network."