McCain, the F-bomb and "those Guatemalans" in the yard

The immigration debate brings out the best in a man.

Published May 21, 2007 7:12PM (EDT)

John McCain doesn't seem to be troubled by all the Iraq votes he has missed, but don't go suggesting that he's shirking his duties when it comes to immigration. John Cornyn made that mistake last week, and he quickly found himself at the receiving end of a Dick Cheney-esque outburst from the Arizona senator.

If you've got a Roll Call subscription, you can read all the profane details here. If not, the short version goes something like this: At a meeting held just before senators announced their immigration deal last week, McCain accused Cornyn of raising "chickenshit" objections to try to kill the plan. Cornyn, in turn, accused McCain of trying to "parachute in" to negotiations he'd skipped in favor of the campaign trail. McCain's response, according to several who heard it: "Fuck you. I know more about this issue than anyone here in the room."

According to the Washington Post's Paul Kane, McCain's office has "specifically denied" that McCain ever claimed to know more about the immigration issue than other senators. Translation, so far as we can tell: McCain's office is implicitly admitting that McCain dropped the F-bomb on Cornyn.

Maybe the stress of the campaign is getting to McCain. Or maybe there's just something about the immigration issue itself. On a conference call with bloggers today, McCain attacked Mitt Romney for his views on immigration reform, ultimately suggesting that the former Massachusetts governor "get out his small varmint gun and chase those Guatemalans off his yard."

By Tim Grieve

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

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2008 Elections Immigration John Mccain R-ariz.