Mississippi congressman, former FEMA director trade barbs

Published 6:11 pm Friday, July 28, 2006

A Mississippi congressman hit back at Michael Brown on Thursday after the former FEMA director described him as “that little twerp.”

“Brown is an incompetent fool, and everyone in South Mississippi knows it,” said Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss.

In a Playboy magazine interview, the fallen Federal Emergency Management Agency chief took issue with Taylor for harshly questioning him during a hearing into the government’s sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina last year.

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“He said I didn’t recognize the death and suffering that was going on,” Brown said of Taylor.

“For that little twerp to claim I didn’t recognize death and suffering — he can just bite me, for all I care,” Brown told Playboy.

Taylor, one of the few Democrats to sit on the Republican-dominated House inquiry, returned fire Thursday.

“Brown should consider himself a lucky man,” he said in a statement. “Had I known before the hearing that he was up in Baton Rouge ordering steaks on his government credit card at the same time the people of South Mississippi were resorting to police-sanctioned looting to feed themselves, I would have done more than just verbally kick his butt.”

Brown describes himself as a “fighter” in the interview about his efforts to repair his public image after being vilified as public face for all that failed during Katrina. He also questions Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s ability to run that department in the interview that was billed as a “heckuva conversation with the maligned ex-FEMA chief.”

Only days before Brown quit FEMA under fire, President Bush told him, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” The catchphrase has since become synonymous with widely viewed perceptions the government was overwhelmed in the days immediately after Katrina hit.