Pretty much everything David Vitter says as a United States Senator, after what we know about him, takes chutzpah. But this comment is even more galling than most:

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) Monday requested that a Senate committee not immediately hold a hearing on a massive oil spill threatening the coastline of his state.

The senator, who sits on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), wrote its heads, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), asking them to delay a potential hearing, because he fears that it could pull “people and resources” away from the cleanup operation.

“I ask that you hold off for the time being on pulling away any resources from the Gulf of Mexico – including individuals that would have to spend time drafting testimony and preparing for questions,” he wrote in a letter to the senators. “Until we are comfortable that pulling people and resources away from the incident is appropriate and won’t jeopardize the ongoing cleanup and coastal protection operation, I ask with the utmost sincerity that the committee wait at least a couple more weeks before holding hearings.”

Yes, the same people who are building the containment domes and skimming the surface of the water and constructing the booms are the ones who would be testifying. Surely the CEO of BP is donning his wet suit right now for a mile-down dive to personally expect the leaky pipe.

What makes this even more ridiculous a charge is that the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the Oversight Committee, already has a members-only briefing scheduled for today. And BP executives have met with the Interior Secretary, Homeland Security Secretary and the EPA Administrator in the last 24 hours.

So BP executives have plenty of time on their hands to brief the relevant parties. They just don’t want to be seen in public. So they trot out David Vitter – I could say pimp out but that gets us into all kinds of dangerous territory – to shield them from public view.

The earliest public hearing we’ll get is probably from Henry Waxman’s Energy and Commerce Committee on May 12.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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