With Massachusetts' Barney Frank announcing he won't run for reelection to Congress next year, America will soon lose one of its few elected officials both willing and able to say rude (and often funny) things on camera. Unfortunately, YouTube did not exist during many classic Frank moments -- like in 1995, when Republican House majority leader Dick Armey called him "Barney Fag," Frank responded that it couldn't have been accidental mispronunciation. "I turned to my own expert, my mother, who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag." But many others live on the Internet forever. (Update: Frank says he's not running because the lines of his district have been redrawn and state Democrats wanted him to declare whether he's in or out, Politico reports. "Let me be clear, I will neither be a lobbyist nor a historian.")
Update 2: In Frank's press conference explaining his decision to retire, he couldn't help but take several shots at a former colleague. "I didn't think I lived a good enough life to see Newt Gingrich be the Republican nominee," Frank said.
"Madam, trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table." Frank objected to a woman comparing President Obama to Nazis at a town hall in 2009.
"This interview is over!" Frank could only tolerate about five minutes of an interview with CNBC's Mark Haines over Wall Street bonuses in 2009.
"Your stupidity gets in the way of rational discussion." Frank had a couple explosive fights with Bill O'Reilly in 2008.
"We don’t get ourselves dry cleaned." In 2011, Frank did not like being asked by a conservative reporter whether it was wrong to force straight members of the military to shower with gay members of the military after Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed.
"I'm sorry, Michele, why do you keep interrupting? I'm sorry you don't like what I'm saying." Frank was rude to his colleagues, too, like when he battled Michele Bachmann over ACORN in 2009.
"You're a public representative, I'm a student..." "Which allows you to say stuff you don't back up?" At Harvard in 2009, Frank shattered a longheld tradition among politicians of pretending to take college students seriously.
"You have to understand, when you think you are the intellectual leader of the free world, and you find yourself struggling pass Michele Bachmann in a poll in Iowa, it's unsettling. I understand that the poor man isn't getting his due." Frank was not impressed in October, after Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested he be thrown in jail for alleged misconduct during the housing bubble.
"Don't condescend to me!" Frank didn't limit his surliness to fights with conservative talk show hosts. He yelled at MSNBC's Ed Schultz over Wall Street bonuses. "I'm just baffled by your almost hostility to taxation of people who are making these large amounts of money. That's one of the ways we get it back… Ed, I don't understand how you can ignore what I'm saying."
"The gentleman has asked a parliamentary inquiry and has received an answer. The chair regrets that he does not like the answer but he cannot change that." Frank managed to be rudely funny even on the House floor while operating under strict rules requiring him to address his adversary, in this case Patrick McHenry, as "the gentleman."
"I hadn't really expected to be here but I was walking by and I thought I heard someone yelling, 'The plane, boss, the plane!' and I wanted to come in and see what was happening." Republicans and Democrats were fighting on the House floor over then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's expensive air travel in 2007 when Frank cut in to make fun of the issue.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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