Kansas House Speaker Mike ONeal on Thursday apologized for an email that made fun of first lady Michelle Obamas hair style and mockingly called her Mrs. YoMama.
By BRAD COOPER
The Kansas City Star
The emails featured pictures comparing Mrs. Obama to the Grinch, a Dr. Seuss character, because of their similarly wind-blown hair.
Sorry, just had to forward this latest holiday message, ONeal reportedly wrote in the email he shared with fellow Republican lawmakers. Ive had worse hair days, but this is pretty funny.
According to the Lawrence Journal World, ONeal forwarded from his personal computer the email that said, Im sure youll join me in wishing Mrs. YoMama a wonderful, long Hawaii Christmas vacation at our expense, of course.
The first family spent the holidays in Hawaii before returning recently to Washington, D.C.
A spokeswoman for ONeal said the speaker didnt write the YoMama remark about the first lady. And ONeal said late Thursday in statements that he didnt notice that in the text of the original email before passing it along.
Cartoons are intended to be humorous. This one made me laugh Ive had bad hair days too, said ONeal, who represents a district that includes Hutchinson. I forwarded it too quickly, missing the text included in the body of the email. To those I have offended, I am sorry. That was not at all my intent.
The first ladys office declined to comment on the matter.
But Joan Wagnon, the leader of the Kansas Democratic Party, called it highly offensive, disrespectful and unacceptable.
Regardless of how he feels about President (Barack) Obamas politics, Speaker ONeals decision to promote language demeaning Mrs. Obama is simply wrong, Wagnon said.
The leading Democrat in the Kansas House said the email should be a cautionary tale for elected leaders.
Public officials have to be careful what they send out and forward on email, said House Minority Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence. This is a reminder for all of us.
Earlier Thursday, ONeal had defended the email, contending that he was only making fun of his own bad hair days. In a statement, the speakers office said that political cartoons are a part of American culture.
Its hard to see how Mike ONeal poking fun at himself and forwarding a lighthearted political cartoon about the first ladys extravagant spending of taxpayer funds during a time when many Americans are financially struggling is newsworthy, the statement said.
State Rep. Owen Donohoe, a Shawnee Republican, was among the lawmakers who received the email last week. Donohoe said he didnt get past the pictures of the first lady, recalling only how he was struck by her unusual hair style. He couldnt remember the text.
The ONeal incident comes just weeks after U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, apologized to the first lady for commenting on the size of her backside.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Sensenbrenner referred to Obamas big butt while talking to church members at a Christmas bazaar.
According to the newspapers account, Sensenbrenner thought Obama was a hypocrite for undertaking a national initiative to fight obesity.
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