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'I pay your salary,' snaps historian to lawmaker in tense House hearing

A hearing on drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge went haywire when Alaska Rep. Don Young traded insults with Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

From NBC News and msnbc.com:
Heated discussions are commonplace on Capitol Hill, but it's rare form for a witness and a legislator to have at it.

But it happened on Friday when Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young sparred (intensely) with historian Douglas Brinkley at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Brinkley recently authored "The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom," and was offering his opinions on the effects of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

But Young called the hearing an "an exercise in futility," and likened the testimony to "garbage." Then, he called Brinkley "Dr. Rice," confusing him with the university where he teaches.

And that's when the fireworks began (note the expression on the face of the aide sitting behind Young).

"Rice is a university ... I know you went to Yuba College and you couldn't graduate," snapped Brinkley.

Young retorted, “I'll call you anything I want to call you when you sit in that chair. You just be quiet.”

"You don't own me! I pay your salary," Brinkley replied. "I work for the private sector, you work for the taxpayers."

Later in hearing, Young took the opportunity to zing back at Brinkley, saying, "We’ve heard from environmentalists, and I understand their beliefs, but they don’t know what they’re talking about."