Joe Wilson Apologizes For Shouting "You Lie!" At Obama
Fresh from a month of acrimonious town halls, House Republicans arrived for President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night with signs, props, and a lot of attitude.
But at least one congressman went way too far. Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "You lie!" after Obama denied that his health care proposal would cover illegal immigrants.
All eyes turned in the South Carolina Republican's direction -- including Obama's, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's and Vice President Joe Biden's.
Wilson, looking agitated, leaned forward and began tapping away at his BlackBerry, as if he were Googling up proof that the president had, in fact, lied.
"Shame on you!" shouted someone from the Democratic side. "Throw him out!" shouted someone else. First Lady Michelle Obama, seated behind and above Wilson, seemed to mouth a drawn-out "damn" at the scene unfolding before her.
Not long after the speech ended, Wilson issued an apology. "This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," he said. "While I disagree with the President's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility." Wilson also called the White House to apologize.
Wilson's wasn't the only disruption, though it was the most extreme. Throughout the speech, Republican members of Congress repeatedly held up stacks of papers that appeared to represent ideas they had for the bill.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) held signs that read "What Bill?" and "What Plan?"
When Obama told the chamber that the "death panel" lie was, in fact, a lie, a Republican member said loudly enough to be heard in the press gallery, "Read the bill" -- a common refrain at August's angry town hall meetings.
When Obama told the chamber that he had "no interest in putting insurance companies out of business," a Republican member responded with a loud, "Ha!"
"Nineteen years, never, never have I seen anything like this," said a furious Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) after the speech.
"I thought it was very inappropriate behavior, to hold up signs. None of us ever would have done that," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). "I don't think in the Congress of the United States there ought to be catcalls, or people standing up and yelling comments or holding up signs."
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest serving member in House history, said he was not impressed by the GOP antics. "Well, you've got to understand: They're Republicans. They're just doing what comes natural," he told HuffPost.
Obama, in his speech, referenced Dingell's father for first introducing universal health care legislation in 1943. Dingell has introduced such a bill every year he's been in Congress and today's House bill bears his name.
"I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last," Obama said of the long history of failed efforts. It struck a chord with Dingell. "The best speech I've ever heard on the floor of the House," he said.