The smack-down of Texas Rep. Joe Barton by his fellow Republican Congressmen, and the mock outrage of Democrats should provide, as they say, "a teachable moment."
Our Founding Fathers in crafting a government to fulfill its proper role of securing Americans' God-given natural rights, while deriving it's legitimate authority from the consent of the governed, were careful not to create a democracy, where a simple majority could do whatever they pleased. Instead, the wise men who formed the greatest experiment ever in self-rule by free men, designed a Republic, in which the consent of the governed is expressed through elected representatives, and based upon the Rule of Law, not the mere whims of 50-percent+1.
So, President Obama summons the CEO of BP to the White House and makes him an offer he can't refuse. Under ordinary circumstances, this transaction would be recognized as a SHAKEDOWN. In this case, however, it so happens that 80% of the American People are in favor of the shakedown. Does that make the shakedown not a shakedown? Does that make the shakedown legal? We now know that it makes the shakedown unmentionable.
The Obama shakedown of BP is tyranny. It just happens to be popular tyranny, and perhaps BP had it coming. But what about the next time this usurped power is used by the government? A society governed by the rule of law has considered the question, "what about next time?" A society governed by the rule of man (whether an individual despot, a majority, or as in this case, a combination of the two) looks only at the moment, without regard for the consequences to liberty in the future. Our U.S. Constitution, with its hedges against both despotism and mob-rule, was instituted in order to secure the blessings of liberty not only to ourselves, but also to our posterity.
When I heard Rep. Barton's remarks the first time, I didn't know (and I still don't) that he was directing his apology to BP. I assumed he was apologizing to the American People, or his constituents, for the actions of the Federal Government (Eureka! we found an apology that Barack Obama doesn't like) in violation of the rule of law. Whoever the object of Barton's apology was, the fact remains that his characterization of the shakedown as a shakedown was true, but truth isn't always popular, and that's a good reason to protect and defend our rule of law Republic from inroads by tyrants as well as incidental majorities.