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Worst week in Washington: Rep. Don Young

Young

Message to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska): “Wetback” is not the preferred nomenclature, dude.

Young used that slur for Mexican-Americans in making a point about how technology has shrunk the number of jobs in the country.

“My father had a ranch,” Young told KRBD in Ketchikan. “We used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”

Within hours of the quote making its way to the national media, Young issued an apology.

“I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” he said. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”

For a Republican Party that badly needs to improve its image in the Hispanic community – Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of Hispanic votes in the 2012 presidential race – Young’s comments did not go over well. House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, released a statement Friday saying that “Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds.”

The last thing Young needs is more negative media attention. The House Ethics Committee announced this month that it would investigate whether Young failed to properly report gifts. Of the investigation, Young told KRBD: “We’ll see who’s right and who’s wrong.”

But Young was way wrong on “wetbacks.”

Don Young, for channeling Archie Bunker, you had the worst week in Washington.

Congrats, or something.

Chris Cillizza is a columnist for the Washington Post.

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