Wilson's Apology

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Rep. Joe Wilson, the conservative Republican congressman who shouted "You lie!" at President Obama during last night's address to a joint session of Congress, issued an apology last night:

"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. 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."

Politico has video of the heckling here:


Wilson drew an aghast death-look from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi--one that actually made me frightened while watching at home--and has been roundly toasted by liberal commentators surprised by his boldness. And, coincidentally, his website is currently down, probably inundated with traffic, and the phone line for his office has been busy this morning.

And House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), the highest-ranking South Carolinian in the federal government, says Wilson "ought to man up" and apologize to Obama in person.

As for the veracity of his claim--that health care reform would offer coverage to illegal immigrants (that's what he accused Obama of lying about)--the bill specifically prohibits federal subsidies to help illegal immigrants obtain coverage if they can't afford it (OpenCongress explains it here). The Congressional Research Service, a body that conducts research at the behest of members of Congress, says the bill could leave a loophole for subsidies to go to illegal immigrants anyway, because it doesn't specify a citizenship verification system.

Subsidies are a different issue from simply purchasing the public insurance and paying the premium, and maybe that's what Wilson meant. As long as his phones stay busy, we may not find out this morning.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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