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C-SPAN battle: Historian shouts down congressman at hearing

Chris Moody, Yahoo News
The Ticket

Televised congressional hearings often serve as a platform for members of Congress to berate, bloviate and showboat for the cameras, but at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday, historian Douglas Brinkley wouldn't stand for it.

The topic at hand was drilling in the the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The trouble began when Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young misstated Brinkley's name after referring to the hearing as "an exercise in futility." In a certain breach of protocol, Brinkley cut him off.

Young didn't like that one bit.

"You just be quiet," Young demanded.

"You don't own me," Brinkley shot back. "I pay your salary!"

Washington Republican Rep. Doc Hastings, the chairman of the committee, tried to break it up, but then Brinkley interrupted him.

"I work for the private sector," Brinkley said.

When the chairman returned the floor to Young, the rumble began anew.

"We're the ones who ask the questions, and you're the one who answers the questions," Young said. "Boy I'm really pissed right now."

Obviously, it's a must-watch; you can see the exchange in the video above.

Update: The Washington Post's Amy Argetsinger caught up with both parties after the showdown:

A spokesman for Young later called the episode "a publicity stunt by Mr. Brinkley in order to sell books." Witnesses, he said, "are invited to testify before Congress to answer questions and provide insight, not repeatedly interrupt."

Brinkley was unapologetic when we reached him, calling Young "a crazy zealot for molesting the refuge" and saying he wished he "could have gone mano-a-mano" with him. "I was hoping for the chance to get into a heated debate with him, but, alas, it's hard in that forum."

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