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Massa flirts with the right, but Beck isn't tickled

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The Beck-Massa affair was a case of two political extremists who have gone so far in opposite directions that these strange bedfellows have wound up on the same mattress: They are both avowed foes of the Obama administration and its efforts to enact health-care reform.

Massa, who at first had said he was quitting for medical reasons but then admitted there were ethics problems, finally decided that he had been "set up" by the White House and Democratic leaders because of his opposition to health-care legislation. Democratic leaders, he ranted over the weekend on WKPQ, in Hornell, N.Y., "are going to ram this down the throats of the American people, and anyone who stands in the way of doing that is going to be smeared and they're going to be kicked out of Congress."

Twice on the show, he urged listeners to "call Fox News" to get him booked on the conservative news network. Sure enough, Beck came calling. But there was a problem with this arrangement. Massa opposed the reform bill because he thinks it isn't enough of a government takeover. He wants a government-run single-payer system -- what Beck would call socialism.

At the top of the show, there was a little flirtation.

"I have hundreds of friends who in the past 48 hours think I'm Beelzebub, think I'm the devil, because I'm going on this show," Massa said.

"I have several friends who think I'm the devil for having you on," Beck returned.

Massa tried to be ingratiating to his host. "By the way, we actually agree on some things," he said. He urged Beck's viewers to tell lawmakers to oppose the health-care bill -- as though that may not have occurred to them.

But Beck was unimpressed. He didn't understand why Massa, if he had truly been wronged by the White House and Democratic leaders, would resign rather than stay and fight. "Bull crap, sir," Beck said of Massa's explanation.

It deteriorated from there. Massa suggested that Beck "stop calling fellow Americans names . . . socialist, communist, whatever the case may be." He also told the conservative audience: "You can't show up at a 'tea party' rally and claim that the entire budget deficit happened this year."

And Massa, though he brought a chest X-ray to document his illness, had nothing to support his hints that Democratic leaders had made corrupt bargains and used thuggish tactics. "Name names," Beck pleaded. "Show us where to throw the dirt."

But no matter how many times he was asked -- Anything new? Actionable stuff? Anything specific? -- Massa came up empty. "I don't know how to be specific," he said.

In the show's waning minutes, Beck surrendered. "America, I've got to shoot straight with you," he said, looking into the camera. "I think I've wasted your time. I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time, and I apologize for that."

Seems Massa's dalliance with the right was to be a one-night stand.


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