While President Obama was certainly the star of the night in Washington, D.C. with his health care speech to a rare joint session of Congress, one Representative was able to take the focus off of the President with two little words and an exclamation point -- "You lie!"
That's what Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouted after Obama said his health care plan would not cover illegal immigrants. It was a shocking breach of protocol in the hallowed halls of Congress. But it did one thing that no one in the Capitol can seem to do -- it brought Republicans and Democrats together, in condemnation of the act.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sitting behind the President, shot a withering glare at Wilson after his outburst. But that was just the beginning. Here's a sample of what Wilson's colleagues on both sides of the aisle had to say:
"It was a low moment in the history of Congress, and I'll leave it at that, said Rep. Anthony Weiner, (D) New York.
“I think we ought to treat the president with respect,” said Sen.Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky, “and anything other than that is not appropriate.”
"The person who said it will pay a price,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois. “I think the average American thinks that the president and the office deserve respect, and that was a disrespectful comment. They'll pay a price in the court of public opinion."
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said “No president has ever been treated like that. Ever,” He approached Wilson after the speech and demanded an apology. In an email to reporters, Wilson did just that:
"This evening, I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility."
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, (D) South Carolina, said the remark was the latest in a long line of political attacks by Wilson.
“Joe Wilson took our state's reputation to a new low. I thought (Governor) Mark Sanford had taken it as low as it could go, but this is beyond the pale.
"Joe is very confrontational," he added. "He held his first town hall meeting three blocks from my house at my kid's high school. Now why would he have this town hall meeting in my congressional district, three blocks from my house in my kid's high school? It's not in his district. That's the kind of guy Joe Wilson is. He loves confronting people. So he was confronting the president, just as he was confronting me."
The outburst could have serious fallout for Wilson. Democratic campaign officials tell The New York Times that in the eight hours after Wilson was identified as the heckler, his potential Democratic congressional opponent, Rob Miller, received nearly 3,000 individual campaign contributions totaling about $100,000.