Glenn Beck has recently been travelling with an armed guard who follows him everywhere, even to the men's room. But Beck is probably safe for now -- at least from his fellow conservatives -- as long as he can resist the impulse to hug any trees.
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) was interviewed by Politico this week and responded mainly with a stream of wisecracks. When asked, "Have you broken your streak of not introducing any bills yet?" he answered, "Bill who?" And a question about the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus brought the reply, "We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition."
A site called Treehugger.com found Harper's remarks outrageous. "While hunters, sportsmen, and trappers across the country are actually helping 'liberal democrats' to pass climate legislation, GOP Representative Gregg Harper is talking about murdering them," Brian Merchant wrote. "What politician--especially in the age of the omnipresent sound byte--thinks it's a good idea to talk about killing their political opponents?"
A Harper spokesman insisted, "It's supposed to be fun...It's having a good time." And a Democratic state senator in Mississippi agreed, "I think it is very clear that it is meant to be a light, humorous piece. Its tone is conversational and much of the reaction on the DailyKos site ignores this clear fact."
Harper's fellow members of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, however, may be starting to find his quip an embarrassment. When the Omaha World-Herald asked caucus co-chairman Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) for comment, he merely referred to the group's website, which says its purpose is to look out for the interests of hunters and fishermen.
Even Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) was mildly critical of Harper, saying, "I don't ask a pheasant's politics before I shoot it. Gregg should have focused on his game, not his colleagues."
Harper might be also better advised to keep any target practice on his own side of the aisle. When former Vice President Dick Cheney shot an elderly Bush-Cheney campaign donor in the face on a 2006 hunting trip, the man reacted by saying he was sorry for what Cheney and his family had had to go through. A liberal tree-hugging Democrat might not have been as polite.