Shooting From the Lip
Stark's Latest Gaffe Is Just One In a Long Line
Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) apologized to Congress, President Bush and the Bush family yesterday for saying last week that Republicans were sending the nation's youth to Iraq "to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
"I hope that with this apology, I will become as insignificant as I should be," said the combative Californian after the House voted down a resolution by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to censure Stark.
Fat chance. Each party in the House has its colorful characters whose mouths get them in trouble. But Stark may be in a class by himself. Here is a compendium of his greatest hits:
2003: As Stark belittled House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), then-Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.) told him to "shut up."
"You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp?" Stark taunted. "Come on. Come over here and make me, I dare you. You little fruitcake."
2001: At a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on abstinence promotion, Stark referred to then-Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) as the "current Republican Conference chairman, whose children were all born out of wedlock."
1995: In a private meeting, Stark called then-Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.) a "whore for the insurance industries."
"He didn't call her a 'whore,' " defended Stark press secretary Caleb Marshall. "He called her a 'whore of the insurance industry.' "
1991: Stark singled out "Jewish colleagues" for blame for the Persian Gulf War, referring to then-Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.) as "Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel forces."
1990: Stark called then-Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, who is African American, "as close to being a disgrace to his race as anyone I've ever seen."
-- Jonathan Weisman