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Angle calls $20b BP escrow a 'slush fund'

It's been said repeatedly that Harry Reid is one of the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle. But Democrats believe the Senate majority leader's chances have improved because of his opponent's controversial views.

Sharron Angle's views were on display again, when in a radio interview -- sent around by Democrats and written about on left-leaning writer Greg Sargent's blog -- Angle called the $20 billion BP escrow a "slush fund" -- despite BP agreeing to set up the fund. Angle joins a chorus of right-wing candidates, elected members like Joe Barton, and talking heads like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who have also referred to account that way. Money from the fund, which is being independently administered, is to be distributed to those affected by the Gulf oil spill.

She said the government is "overreacting," the Environmental Protection Agency is "all about money," and that "the petroleum industry shouldn't be penalized for one bad person's actions. It would be like throwing us all in prison because one person committed murder," she said. She added that the government should avoid "overregulating" oil companies, because they risk having them leave the country. And that the government should instead make sure that oil companies are adhering to a "checklist." (Though it was unclear how it would enforce that without fines and penalties, or what incentive oil companies would have to adherence without them.)

President Obama helps raise money for Reid tonight in Las Vegas. Expect to hear him speak to these comments.

*** UPDATE *** In a statement on her website, Angle said that her use of the phrase "slush fund" was "incorrect" and that she should not have used it. Here's the full statement.

"There's been some confusion this morning regarding my position on BP and the oil spill.

Having had some time to think about it, the caller and I shouldn't have used the term "slush fund"; that was incorrect.

My position is that the creation of this fund to compensate victims was an important first step-- BP caused this disaster and they should pay for it. But there are multiple parties at fault here and there should be a thorough investigation. We need to look into the actions, (or inactions) of the Administration and why the regulatory agency in charge of oversight was asleep at the wheel while BP was cutting corners. Every party involved should be held fully accountable.

Listen to the audio of Angle's original remarks here.

Here's the transcript:

QUESTION: ... I wanted to know what she thought of the $20 billion slush fund and whether or not government should be able to do that to a private company.

ANGLE: Well, the short answer is no, government shouldn't be doing that to a private company. And I think you named it. Clearly, it's a slush fund. The problem with, even the EPA is that it's all about money. It's the taxing, fining agency and what we really needed was a management agency. You know, what happened in the Gulf was BP didn't do their checklist, and we need somebody there to say, 'Did you do your checklist. Well, they cut corners, didn't do their checklist and what we got was criminal, actually criminal and willful act here, because they were doing those cut corners.

But everyone in the petroleum industry shouldn't be penalized for one bad person's actions. It would be like throwing us all in prison because one person committed murder. And that's exactly what's going on here is it's an overreaction by government for not the right reasons. They're actually using this crisis, if you will, 'cause they never waste one -- Saul Alinsky's rule for radicals -- [laughter of host] they are using this crisis now to get in cap-and-trade and every fine and penalty and slush fund like you said and so, what we really needed is something in a management situation where we know that they're actually doing the checklist, but going forward, we need to talk about how do we regulate an industry and keep them here doing what they do, which is creating jobs without overregulating them and driving them out of a country."