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The meltdowns seem to come in bunches.
Serena Williams busting her racket and threatening a judge at the U.S. Open. Kanye West crashing the stage at the MTV awards and wresting the microphone away from honoree Taylor Swift.
And perhaps most notably Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst at Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress when he shouted, “You lie!” at the president.
The House GOP leadership arm-twisted Wilson into making an apology, but the obscure Republican backbencher seems to be enjoying his newfound notoriety so perhaps he will find it fortuitous that the same day the House voted to admonish him, Muntadhar al-Zeidi was released from an Iraqi jail.
Al-Zeidi is perhaps the best-known contemporary disrespecter of a U.S. president. He disagreed with President Bush’s Iraq policy even more vehemently than Wilson disagreed with Obama’s health-care reforms. At least Wilson kept his footwear on.
At a joint press appearance by Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, al-Zeidi flung his shoe at the U.S. president, shouting, “This is the farewell kiss, you dog!” Then he took off his other shoe and flung that, too, declaiming, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” A little more florid than “You lie!” but the sentiment is still unmistakable.
For his meltdown, al-Zeidi spent nine months in jail where he says his jailers administered electric shocks and beatings with pipes and steel cables.
Wilson was forced to listen to the majority Democrat House debate whether to pass a “resolution of disapproval” of his outburst.
Disrespecting a U.S. president made both men heroes to their respective constituencies. Wilson was lionized at a large weekend rally of people who are opposed to Obama, taxes, spending, health-care reform and, the Associated Press reported, reaped “a financial bonanza” in campaign contributions.
Al-Zeidi became a hero in the Arab world for his shoe barrage and was welcomed out of jail with a big party, roasted sheep and a poem built around the refrain “glory be to the shoes.” A Saudi Arabian businessman is said to have offered $10 million for one of the shoes, which, alas, seem to be in government custody.
The next time Obama addresses Congress, Wilson might want to sit close to the podium. And wear loafers.