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There's a California congressman, a Democrat and classic northern California liberal, named Fortney Pete Stark who is always shooting his mouth off. But he may have done it this time.

During a debate on the children's health bill today in Congress, Stark stood to lecture Republicans and said the following:

"You don't have money to fund the (Iraq) war or children," he said. "But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people — if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

Translation if you missed it: Pete Stark thinks Bush sends American soldiers to Iraq to die for his amusement. Naturally, Republicans in the House objected. Actually they exploded — and they should have.

They demanded Stark's speech be declared beyond the bounds of supposedly civilized debate in the House. Naturally, the Democrat-controlled House rejected the GOP appeal. But I think the rest of us should pick up where the Democrats stopped discussion.

Stark ought to be condemned. He ought to be turned out of office. Someone should inquire if he were under the influence of something at the time he uttered this horrible charge. Maybe it's time to think about afternoons at the dog track for Stark.

Americans getting killed for the president's amusement? And you wonder why political discussion has become so rancorous in this country?

The problem is that Stark isn't the only one who feels that way. It's just that his saying what he said where he said it gives the go-ahead to otherwise marginalized loony Americans to take center stage with the same such garbage.

Somebody asked what is wrong with Kansas? Well, I want to know what's wrong with my home state. How can California continue to send a foot-in-mouth buffoon to debate the country's issues in Congress?

People say Bush doesn't have a grip on the language, but I haven't heard him say: Democrats amuse themselves with the tragedies of other people.

That's My Word.

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