San Francisco Chronicle:
Rep. Pete Stark may be Congress' foremost expert on health care, but on Capitol Hill the Fremont Democrat is better known for his explosive remarks that drive his critics - and sometimes his allies - crazy.
The 18-term lawmaker stirred the pot again Thursday when he attacked President Bush and congressional Republicans for backing hundreds of billions of dollars for the Iraq war, but blocking a $35 billion expansion of a children's health insurance program.
"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," Stark told Republicans on the floor of the House.
The remarks during the debate over Bush's veto of the children's health bill drew howls of outrage from House Republicans and conservative commentators. His words were replayed endlessly on cable news and talk radio. By Friday, even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - who praised Stark for his leadership on the children's health bill a day earlier - was distancing herself from his comments.
"While members of Congress are passionate about their views, what Congressman Stark said during the debate was inappropriate and distracted from the seriousness of the subject at hand - providing health care for America's children," Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said.