Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 22, 2003
POLITICS: Stark Raving Loony, Part II
With the (forced) retirement of Cynthia McKinney, the title of "worst member of Congress" is up for grabs. I nominate Fortney "Pete" Stark, who cemented his reputation last week by calling Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas a c___sucker, repeatedly calling Congressman Scott McInnis a "fruitcake" and challenging him to a fight, and generally acting in a sufficiently threatening manner that Thomas (probably overreacting to the situation) called the Capitol Police.
(FOX News, by the way, says that McInnis "is married and by all accounts not gay.").
It turns out that Stark has an incredibly long history of picking up the nastiest slur handy for whomever is in his way:
Stark has a long history of making outrageous remarks. He once called Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson "a whore," and said former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan is "a disgrace to his race."
Sullivan, wisely, responded, “I don’t live on Pete Stark’s plantation.”. But wait, there's more:
+In 2001, Stark "called the Bush budget 'the embodiment of the anti-Christ,' saying that it was 'infamy' to use the Easter season to release a budget 'that flies in the face of all Christ's teachings.'"
+Later that year, he "falsely accused House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts of having children who 'were all born out of wedlock.'," and The Washington Times recounted more history: "Mr. Stark is something of a legend in the House for making offensive remarks. He has accused Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican, of learning about health care from 'pillow talk' with her husband, a doctor. In 1991 he blamed 'Jewish colleagues' for supporting the Persian Gulf war and called Rep. Stephen Solarz, New York Democrat, as 'Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel forces.'"
George Will also had some fun with Stark's excesses during the Iraq debate:
During the House debate on authorizing the use of force against Iraq, Rep. Pete Stark, a paleo-liberal from northern California, cried, ``Rich kids will not pay; their daddies will get them deferments." He meant draft deferments. It is almost unkind to awaken Stark from his dogmatic slumbers to notify him that there has not been a draft since 1973. And the Beatles have broken up.
Where exactly is Stark's district? Gee, I'll give you one guess -- "the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay"
I know he's not in the leadership, but there comes a point when even a back-bencher merits some sort of rebuke from his party. This guy's a disgrace.