Dan Morain

Dan Morain

By Dan Morain
dmorain@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 – 12:00 am

Rep. Paul Cook, a first-term congressman from San Bernardino County, is not crazy, and he’s not radical.

But along with 79 of the wackiest conservatives in the House, Cook signed the letter that helped bring about the partial shutdown of the most powerful government the world has ever known.

“What a mess,” Cook said by phone from Washington, shortly before heading to the floor to cast more votes in the Republicans’ futile and probably self-defeating attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Mark Meadows, a freshman from North Carolina, wrote the letter in August to Speaker John Boehner. FreedomWorks, the slick and heavily funded tea party group, helped line up support for it.

Most of the signatories to Meadows’ letter are from Southern and Midwestern states. No members from Oregon, Washington or Nevada signed it. But three members from this bluest of states – Cook, Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove and Rep. Doug LaMalfa of Richvale – aligned themselves with Meadows. They knew exactly what they were doing.

Meadows, who represents the heaviest Republican district in North Carolina, won his seat last year with support from the banks, Koch Industries, the National Rifle Association and others including Boehner and House Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

In the letter, Meadows and his gang of 79 Republicans sought to link appropriations for Obamacare to Congress’ obligation to approve a continuing resolution to keep the government afloat after Oct. 1.

“Since most of the citizens we represent believe that Obamacare should never go into effect,” the letter to Boehner says, “we urge you to affirmatively defund the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare in any relevant appropriates bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill.”

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