WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) managed to give 562,001 residents of Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties a reason to regret voting for him in the 2008 presidential race: He declared in a Senate floor debate that their home was "sometimes regrettably" part of the United States.
In a debate Wednesday over a controversial defense bill that would let the military detain Americans indefinitely, McCain pointed to an old case of German soldiers who were captured on Long Island as proof that the Supreme Court has addressed the issue. The case had been cited by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a more recent terrorism decision.
"Isn't it true that Justice O'Connor was specifically referring to a case for a person captured on Long Island?" McCain asked Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). "Last I checked, Long Island was part -- albeit sometimes regrettably -- part of the United States of America."
That did not sit well with New York's Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who quickly tweeted: "All of America saw how heroic Long Islanders were on 9/11. #LongIsland deserves an apology."
McCain then returned to the Senate floor to respond, and took a swipe at Schumer.
"In an exchange here on the floor ... I mentioned the wonderful long people -- wonderful Long Island, I made a joke," McCain said. "I'm sorry there's at least one of my colleagues that can't take a joke, and so I apologize if I offended him and hope that someday he will have a sense of humor."
Schumer decided not to let it rest.
"NYers can take a joke," he tweeted back. "But if @SenJohnMcCain wants to mock parts of America, stick to Arizona."
McCain was once dubbed "McWeasel" by the New York Daily News for saying he couldn't help an ailing 9/11 recovery worker from Brooklyn, one of two New York City boroughs also located on Long Island.
CORRECTION:This article has been corrected to clarify that 562,001 residents of Nassau and Suffolk voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential elections.