THE world may little note nor long remember South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, but his colleagues on Capitol Hill won't likely forget his classless outburst during President Obama's recent speech to Congress. In a stunning breach of protocol - not to mention lack of civility - Representative Wilson shouted, "You lie!" as the President was speaking.
The pointed disturbance was reminiscent of the shout-downs last month at various town hall meetings to discuss health-care reform proposals, only this one was done at a joint session of Congress. Democratic leaders sitting behind the President looked visibly shocked at the boorish behavior in front of them.
To his credit, President Obama continued delivering his address and, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it, didn't give the incident any more attention than it deserved. Mr. Wilson ducked out of the House chamber after the President was finished, presumably to escape bipartisan wrath and craft his mea culpa.
He claimed his action of yelling out loud had been spontaneous and not premeditated and quickly apologized to the President for accusing him of lying about whether illegal immigrants would be covered under proposed changes in health-care policies. Note to Mr. Wilson and other charged-up conservatives: None of the plans now in Congress would include illegal immigrants, as the President said.
The congressman who jumped into the limelight by demeaning the institution he serves claims he "let my emotions get the best of me."
Maybe in next year's midterm election, South Carolinians will do the same with a politician whose outrageous conduct was a national embarrassment.