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Pete Stark forced out as Ways & Means chairman after a day. Was it that shouting match with constituent? (Video here)

March 4, 2010 |  7:48 am

Maybe House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided that he was just too controversial. Or maybe it was that town hall meeting in Fremont, Calif., last fall, when one constituent complained that the government can't be trusted to run anything, let alone the health insurance business.

Whatever the reason, California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark -- only Wednesday named as the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to replace ethics-challenged New York Democrat Charlie Rangel -- is out. One Democratic aide told Ticket this morning that the new chairman will be Michigan's Sander Levin.

Politico is reporting that this embarrassing game of seeming incompetence in leadership occurred during Thursday morning's Democratic caucus. Said one insider, Stark "faced a rebellion within the committee and the caucus over his sometimes bizarre behavior and penchant for making offensive comments." 

Here's the infamous encounter with a voter in the East Bay.

Maybe it was that Stark (full name Fortney Hillman Stark Jr.) suggested on the House floor that then-President George W. Bush was sending U.S. troops to Iraq to get their "heads blown off for his amusement." He later apologized.

Or maybe it was his track record as a seething partisan who once called a Republican lawmaker a "little fruitcake."

-- Johanna Neuman

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