As former GOP Senator Rick Santorum put it, "Everybody has a McCain story." Over his tenure in Congress, McCain has had angry, expletive-laced exchanges with a number of his colleagues and peers,- both Democrat and Republican alike- many of which have been covered extensively by local Arizona and nationwide news sources. Below are the ten most notable among them.
10. Senator Ted Kennedy - On August 6, 1993, the Boston Globe ran a story detailing a heated verbal exchange between Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy and McCain. Kennedy was at the lectern delivering remarks, when McCain began walking toward him from across the Senate floor, mocking the Massachusetts legislator. McCain shouted at Kennedy to "shut up." A stunned Kennedy fired back at McCain, telling him, "you shut up...and act like a Senator."
9. Democratic Rep. Marty Russo (D-IL) - In its December 1985 issue, Atlantic Monthly described an altercation that took place just a few years after McCain had been elected to the House for the first time. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) found himself in the crossfire between the two Congressman, who were angrily shouting "seven-letter and twelve-letter" epithets back and forth at one another, when the exchange became violent and they began pushing and shoving one another. The two were separated from their tangle by a few other legislators who were nearby.
8. Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson - Newsmax, the "conservative perspective" political publication run by Chris Ruddy, didn't cut McCain any partisan slack in a July 2006 article, in which it recounted a dust-up between McCain and some local government officials in his home state. Speaking at a luncheon at which McCain was in attendance, former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson was among a group of local mayors fielding questions from the Arizona Congressional delegation about local land issues. In the midst of one answer from Johnson, who helmed the city from 1990 to 1994, McCain blurted out, "Hold it a minute. Somebody write down everything this guy has to say. You know what, we need to record him. It's best to get a liar on tape."
Taken aback, Johnson offered the Senator a chance to speak privately, saying, "Senator, if you have a problem with me, why don't we go out in the hallway and talk about it."
McCain fired back: "You're God-damn right I have a problem with you! They've been treating you like a princess in Phoenix while they've been burning me over this damn deal, and I'm sick of it!"
7. Unidentified GOP Senator - Accounts of McCain's outburst at a Senate GOP policy lunch has reached near-epic proportion, having been written about by just about every blog and news site from Newsmax, to DailyKos, to the Huffington Post, to Wonkette, and so on. During a vitriolic exchange between McCain and another unnamed Senator who took a position contrary to that of his colleague from Arizona. McCain became infuriated, jumping from his chair and calling his fellow Republican a "shithead," prompting an immediate demand for an apology. McCain stood up again and issued it...sort of. "Okay, I apologize," he said. "But you're still a shithead."
6. Senator Pete Domenici - Newsweek's February 21, 2000 edition highlighted an exchange between McCain and Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Chairman of the Budget Committee. In staunch disagreement with a particular portion of a budget amendment, McCain exploded. "Only an asshole would put together a budget like that." Domenici, who'd been in the Senate nearly 30 years by that point, gave a restrained reply, noting that even in the most heated debated throughout his entire career, no one had ever used that kind of language toward him. McCain didn't back down. "I wouldn't call you an asshole unless you really were an asshole."
5. Unidentified GOP Senator- In 2006, Ron Kessler of Newsmax wrote that much of McCain's unpopularity in the Senate stems from his 2000 campaign, when the vast majority- in fact, all but four- of his colleagues backed George W. Bush in the GOP primary. One of McCain's top aides recounted a telephone conversation between McCain and another Senator, who was explaining that he'd already committed to supporting Bush. When he finished, McCain bristled. "Fuck you," he said, and hung up, never to speak to him again.
4. Senator Strom Thurmond - In an article titled "Senator Hothead," The Washingtonian recounted one particular encounter between McCain and then-92-year-old Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. McCain was giving an opening statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when Thurmond, the committee chairman, interrupted to inquire as to whether McCain was finished so that the proceedings could be moved along. McCain glared at Thurmond and thanked him for his "courtesy." McCain later confronted Thurmond on the Senate floor, and a "scuffle" ensued. "The two didn't part friends."
3. Senator Chuck Grassley - The same Newsweek article that outlined McCain's confrontation with Domenici pointed to a similar incident with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The two were debating issues related to soldiers who had been reported Missing In Action in Vietnam. After a blistering commentary by McCain, Grassley took offense. "Are you calling me stupid?" he asked.
McCain didn't miss a beat. "No, I'm calling you a fucking jerk."
2. Senator John Cornyn - On May 18, 2007, The Washington Post reported that McCain had locked horns with another one of his GOP colleagues, this time Senator John Cornyn of Texas. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill of 2007 had caused an enormous rift among Republicans, and the two Senators found themselves on opposite sides. Cornyn objected to a provision of the bill that allowed for what he perceived as too many judicial appeals for illegal immigrants. McCain called his objections "chicken shit" and accused Cornyn of making petty tactics to sabotage the whole bill. Cornyn took immediate offense.
"Wait a second here. I've been sitting in here for all these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You're out of line."
Then McCain, who'd been spending a lot of time away from Washington on his presidential campaign, got a little more out of line. "Fuck you!" he shouted. "I know more about this than anyone in this room!" McCain apologized shortly afterword.
1. His Own Wife, Cindy McCain - In his new book, The Real McCain, Cliff Schecter, a journalist and frequent contributor at the Huffington Post related perhaps the most disturbing of McCain's tirades. During his 2000 White House bid, the Senator was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, his aides, and three journalists who spoke to Schecter on condition of anonymity, but independently confirmed each other's accounts of the incident. Cindy McCain playfully ran her fingers through the Senator's hair and teased, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain reddened and fired back, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollup, you cunt." After he'd cooled down, McCain apologized, saying he'd had a long day.