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GOP Leadership Aide Compares Budget Dissenters to Hanoi Jane

Tempers are flaring on Capitol Hill ahead of a vote on a compromise plan to fund the government for the remaining 25 weeks of the federal fiscal year.

Pete Meachum, an aide to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, sent out a blast email to the staffs of House Republicans Thursday morning touting a Weekly Standard blog item dismissive of mounting conservative complaints:

"For the handwringers out there, buck up: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/budget-confusion_557395.html.  Please print and hand to your boss. For those seeking other office please campaign at home, not on the backs of your colleagues."

The caustic tone of the email came as something of a surprise to staffers accustomed to an always-respectful tone from McCarthy's office. The surprise turned to dismay when they clicked on the second link, which directed them to a page of a veteran's group attacking Jane Fonda for visiting North Vietnam and posing for photos with soldiers of the communist nation's army at the height of the U.S. war effort and with many servicemen held captive.

That slap, seemingly directed at opponents of the plan like Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who is pondering a presidential run, caused alarm in several offices.

An hour later, Meachum was backing down, writing:

"Upon rereading the email I sent this morning. I realize I stepped over the line. I sincerely apologize, my email was not approved by anyone in our office or Mr. McCarthy. Please speak to me personally if you'd like to discuss further."

Press Secretary Erica Elliot offered the following to FOX News in a tone more familiar to those who deal with the office:

"This was a regrettable decision made by one of our staff members, who sent an email acting independently and without the approval of the office or Congressman McCarthy. He realized it was a mistake and immediately apologized."

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.

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