WASHINGTON — Channeling the nation’s anger, lawmakers pilloried BP’s boss in a withering day of judgment Thursday for the oil company at the center of the Gulf calamity. Unflinching, BP chief executive Tony Hayward said he was out of the loop on decisions at the well, and coolly asserted that “I’m not stonewalling.”

That infuriated members of Congress even more, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Testifying as oil still surged into the Gulf of Mexico and coated ever more coastal land and marshes, Hayward declared “I am so devastated with this accident,” “deeply sorry” and “so distraught.”

Yet the oil man disclaimed knowledge of any of the myriad problems on and under the Deepwater Horizon rig before the deadly explosion, telling a congressional hearing he had only heard about the well earlier in April, the month of the accident, when the BP drilling team told him it had found oil.

“With respect, sir, we drill hundreds of wells a year around the world,” Hayward told Republican Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas.

“Yes, I know,” Burgess shot back. “That’s what’s scaring me right now.”

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., told the CEO: “I think you’re copping out. You’re the captain of the ship.” Democrats were similarly, if more predictably, livid.

“BP blew it,” said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the House investigations panel that held the hearing. “You cut corners to save money and time.”

The verbal onslaught had been anticipated for days and unfolded at a nearly relentless pace. But Hayward had one seemingly sympathetic listener, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who apologized for the pressure that President Obama had put on BP to create a compensation fund for people in the afflicted Gulf of Mexico states.

Barton decried the $20 billion fund that BP agreed to Wednesday at the White House as a “shakedown” and “slush fund.” He told Hayward, “I’m not speaking for anybody else. But I apologize.”

He later retracted his apologies to BP, then apologized anew — this time for calling the fund a “shakedown.”

With multiple investigations continuing and primary efforts in the Gulf focused on stopping the leak, there was little chance the nation would learn much from Hayward’s appearance about what caused the disaster. Yet even modest expectations were not met as the CEO told lawmakers at every turn that he was not tuned in to operations at the well.

He said his underlings made the decisions and federal regulators were responsible for vetting them.

Hayward spoke slowly and calmly in his clipped British accent as he sought to deflect accusations — based on internal BP documents obtained by congressional investigators — that BP chose a particular well design that was riskier but cheaper by at least $7 million.

“I wasn’t involved in any of that decision-making,” he said.

Were bad decisions made about the cement? I wasn’t part of the decision-making process. I’m not a cement engineer, I’m afraid.”

Also, “I am not a drilling engineer” and “I’m not an oceanographic scientist.”

What about those reports that BP had been experiencing a variety of problems and delays at the well?

“I had no prior knowledge,” he said.

At one point, a frustrated Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, interrupted the CEO. “You’re kicking the can down the road and acting as if you had nothing to do with this company and nothing to do with the decisions. I find that irresponsible.”

Hayward quietly insisted: “I’m not stonewalling. I simply was not involved in the decision-making process.”

Burgess slammed both the CEO and government regulators for a risky drilling plan that he said never should have been brought forward.

“Shame on you, Mr. Hayward, for submitting it,” Burgess said, “but shame on us for accepting it, which is simply a rubber stamp.”

As Hayward began to testify, a protester disrupted the hearing and was forcibly removed from the room by Capitol police. The woman was identified as Diane Wilson, 61, a shrimper from Seadrift, Texas, near the Gulf Coast. Her hands stained black, she shouted to Hayward from the back of the room: “You need to be charged with a crime.”

Stupak, the subcommittee chairman and a former Michigan state trooper, noted that over the past five years, 26 people have died and 700 have been injured in BP accidents — including the Gulf spill, a pipeline spill in Alaska and a refinery explosion in Texas.

Hayward argued that safety had always been his top priority and “that is why I am so devastated with this accident.”