Joseph Linus "Joe" Barton (born September 15, 1949) is a Republican politician, representing Texas's 6th congressional district (map) in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1985, and a member of the Tea Party Caucus. The district includes Arlington, part of Fort Worth and several rural areas south of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. During a Congressional hearing, Barton apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the White House's investigation of the Gulf oil spill, calling it a "shakedown", which promptly raised controversy.
Barton was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Bess Wynell (née Buice) and Larry Linus Barton. He graduated from Waco High School. He attended Texas A&M University in College Station on a Gifford-Hill Opportunity Award scholarship and received a B.S. in industrial engineering in 1972. An M.Sc. in industrial administration from Purdue University followed in 1973. Following college Barton entered private industry until 1981 when he became a White House Fellow and served under United States Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards. Later, he began consulting for Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Co. before being elected to the United States Congress in 1984.
Barton made his first run for elected office in 1984, when he entered the Republican primary for Texas's 6th congressional district after six-term incumbent Phil Gramm left his seat to run for the United States Senate that year. He finished first in the five-candidate field and defeated Max Hoyt in the runoff. He then defeated the Democratic nominee, former state representative Dan Kubiak, in the general election with 56 percent of the vote. He was one of six freshmen Republican congressmen elected from Texas in 1984 known as the Texas Six Pack. He was held to 55.8 percent of the vote in 1986 against Democrat Pete Geren (who would later be elected to Congress from a neighboring district), but hasn't faced another contest nearly that close, usually winning with over 60 percent of the vote. The Democrats didn't even put up a challenger in 1998 or 2000.