Want fries with that?

Freedom fries are still on the menu inside the U.S. Capitol. A congressman who helped put them there now wishes that they weren't.

Published June 3, 2005 3:54PM (EDT)

War Room happened to have lunch last week in the members' dining room inside the U.S. Capitol, and while it was all very impressive -- the high ceilings, the art, the great minds of Congress walking back and forth, the navy bean soup that's served every day -- we might have been most struck by the fact that "freedom fries" are still on the menu.

It seemed so 2003. What we didn't know until a reader let us know today: One of the men responsible for the petty potato protest apparently thinks so, too.

In a fit of patriotic pique, Reps. Walter Jones and Bob Ney led an effort in March 2003 to rename Capitol french fries "freedom fries" to mark their displeasure with French opposition to the war in Iraq. But in an interview with North Carolina's News & Observer last month, Jones said: "I wish it had never happened."

The North Carolina Republican has come full circle on the war. When he and Ney were pulling their freedom fries stunt, Jones was a vocal supporter of the war who claimed to be "discouraged more than I can say" by "France's self-serving politics of passive aggression in this effort." Today, Jones sounds -- well, he sounds a little French, doesn't he? He says that the United States went to war "with no justification," and he wonders if the president lied to the American people. "If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong," Jones told the News & Observer. "Congress must be told the truth."

Although not a lot of Republicans in Congress would dare say the things that Jones is saying now, he isn't exactly on the lunatic fringe of American political thought. Recent polls show widespread disapproval of the way the Bush administration is handling Iraq; a plurality of Americans believe that their country shouldn't have gone to war in the first place, and a majority says that the war hasn't been worth the cost. Perhaps it's time to bring back the french fries -- with a bottle of Heinz on the side.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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