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Rep. Stark Puts Bush In A Corner

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) would like to add another “extreme, radical” ideologue to the so-called Axis of Evil: President George W. Bush.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Axis of Evil is not just in the Middle East,” Stark said on the House floor Wednesday. “It’s right down here on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The outspoken California liberal was speaking in defense of the state-run children’s health care measure that Bush vetoed as expected on Wednesday.

Stark, who has been known to overstate his case on occasion, helped craft the legislation, which helps explain his over-the-top rhetoric during debate over a rare procedural vote to give Democrats more time to override Bush’s veto.

“This is a matter of life or death for our children’s health care,” Stark proclaimed to anyone who would listen (C-SPAN viewers, that would be you).

And he went on to describe Bush’s governing policy as “obscure, extreme, radical ideology.”

Afterward, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a fellow California Democrat who presided over the debate, politely reminded him not to refer to the president in second person and to instead direct his comments to the chair.

But Stark wasn’t alone; the debate over a postponement vote was classic (if also hackneyed) political theater (think middle-school Shakespeare). And Stark stole the show when he explained the two-week gap between Bush’s veto and the House vote to override it as the “timeout” parents force their children to take whenever they misbehave.

“The reason we’re waiting is for what we call in our household a timeout,” Stark told Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the father of a young son. “You go to your room and think about the mistake you made. And when you’re ready to apologize and come back and set things straight, you come out of your room.”

Barton quickly interjected that his son has never misbehaved enough to warrant a timeout, and Stark shot back, “He will.”

Members of Congress are regularly compared to children, but this may be the first time any has been told to go to his or her room.