Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican regarded as among the most conservative of U.S. Senators, defended Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- at least on a personal level -- and took a swipe at Fox News, a favorite outlet for many conservatives.
"Come on now, she is nice -- how many of you have met her; she's a nice person," Coburn said to some jeers from a crowd at a recent town hall meeting, according to The Hill
newspaper. "Let me give you a little lesson here. I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you, doesn't mean they're not a good person."
In a comments covered by KGOU
in Oklahoma City, Coburn emphasized that he was "180 degrees in opposition" to Pelosi's politics. But when someone in the crowd said the new health care law would mean a person not buying insurance could go to prison, Coburn replied, "that makes for good TV news on Fox but that isn't the intention." However, he said, individuals will have to prove that they have health insurance to the satisfaction of the Internal Revenue Service.
Americans should "make sure we have a debate in this country, so that you can see what's going on and make a determination for yourself," Coburn said in audio clips picked up by Capital News Connection
. "So don't catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody is no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don't know what they don't know."
Coburn, a physician known as Dr. No on Capitol Hill for his resistance to spending bills, is currently holding up legislation that provides for a temporary extension of unemployment benefits. And he wasn't easy on the Obama administration, saying "we can't afford the government we have." But he said Oklahomans should pay attention to both sides of the debate in Washington -- listen to Fox News and CNN, he told them.