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Begala: Calling GOP Donors "Dirtbags" Is An Insult To Dirtbags

First Posted: 07/09/08 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 01:35 PM ET

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Paul Begala wants to apologize for a recent email he sent to Democratic donors in which he called Republican fundraisers "fat-cats", "wimpy, whiny wussies", and "dirtbags."

"I think it was wrong for me to call those fat cat lobbyists dirtbags," said the longtime Clinton confidante. "It is an insult to bags for dirt around the world."

Begalla recently sent an email to supporters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in which he belittled a gathering of Republican financiers as "wall to wall" fat-cats.

"The limos were lined up around the block. If you'd stood in the middle of the ballroom and yelled, 'Hey dirtbag!' a thousand necks would have snapped around," Begala wrote.

The letter drew howls of protest from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which responded by referencing Bill Clinton as "a real dirtbag," while running a fundraising pitch of its own. Senator John Cornyn, too, sought to capitalize on the remark, sending a letter to backers paraphrasing Begala's words and writing: "Ouch, that really, really hurts coming from such a stand up guy."

Begala, reached by phone, took a sort of perverse political pride in the reaction he'd engendered. Not wanting the war of words to end, the Democratic strategist offered up several colloquialisms -- "a hit dog barks," being one -- to explain the fallout. After which, he continued to weigh the merits between dirt and the Republican financiers

"A bag of dirt will have the occasional fecal matter, but generally dirt is good," he said. "I'm a gardener and I grow tomatoes. I love dirt. I should have said oil bag [when talking about GOP donors], or a chemical bag or toxic bag. After all life grows out of dirt."

Read Begala's remarks, Ken Spain, a spokesman for the NRCC, couldn't suppress a hearty giggle and promised to get back with a reaction. Shortly later, he did, offering a personalized zinger of his own.

"Paul Begala's use of words like 'dirtbag' and 'oilbag' truly exemplify why he is considered to be such a gifted and talented communicator," wrote Spain. "One only needs to look at his contributions to the literary world with books like "Buck Up, Suck Up, and Come Back when You Foul Up" to understand why Senator Hillary Clinton's nails-on-a-chalkboard message was such an immense success this primary season."

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