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Friday, March 09, 2007
Top Dem decries 'idiot liberals' on war


Rep. Obey lost his temper with an anti-war constituent.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, apologized Friday for a tirade against anti-war activists on Capitol Hill Monday that was secretly recorded on video and then posted on the Internet site YouTube.

In the testy exchange, Obey -- who is himself an anti-war liberal -- called the activists "idiot liberals" for encouraging him to vote against the supplemental funding bill for the Iraq war even though for the first time the bill places a binding timeline for the redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.

"We're trying to use the supplemental to end the war," Obey told the unidentified women who described herself as the mother of an injured Iraq war veteran as she approached him in the hallway near his office. "You can't end the war if you're going against the supplemental. It's time these idiot liberals understand that."

Obey grew more frustrated when another unidentified person again encouraged him to cut off the funds for the war -- even though Obey had just explained Democrats don't have the votes to do so.

"How, if you don't have the votes?" Obey yelled.

He then stressed that the supplemental bill would end the war. "If that isn't good enough for you, you're smoking something illegal. You've got your facts screwed up."

"We can't get the votes," he continued angrily about the suggestion to cut off funds. "Do you see a magic wand in my pocket? How the hell are we going to get the votes for it? We ain't got the votes for it. We do have the votes if you guys quit screwing it up. We do have the votes to end the legal authority for the war. That's the same as de-funding it."

At that point, a woman who appeared to be an aide led the animated congressman back to his office and shut the door.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, after the Internet posting and after congressional Republicans emailed news of the outburst to reporters, Obey said, "I am sorry I yelled at them. I respect their passion on the issue. I wish they would respect mine. We are both frustrated, and that led us to have an argument that we never should have had because we both want to see an end to U.S. involvement in that war. What divided us was the question of how."

Obey was videotaped by someone who stood behind him and who held the camera below waist level. Obey didn't know he was being recorded, an aide told CNN. It was posted on YouTube by an organization identified as "grassrootsamerica4us.org."

-- CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett
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