Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Cali.) said Wednesday that CNN doesn't understand the meaning of the word "corrupt."
Having gotten much attention for accusing the Obama administration on Sunday's "State of the Union" of being the most corrupt in history, the outspoken Congressman was forced to explain what he meant on "John King USA" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JOHN KING, HOST: If you want to understand how the Republican takeover of the House will change Washington, one place to watch closely is the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Its new chairman is California Republican Darrell Issa. And even before he got his gavel today, Chairman Issa was promising to use his subpoena power to investigate Obama administration spending and more.
His tough talk already earning him fans on the right and many critics who say he would do well to remember that old adage, innocent until proven guilty. I spoke to Chairman Issa earlier on Capitol Hill.
KING: You have promised aggressive investigations of this administration and you've drawn some criticism even before you become chairman in just a few moments because you have already said on the record, before you've had any hearings, any evidence, and used your subpoena power before you that you believe this is one of the most corrupt administrations in history. Do you owe the president and his administration an apology for saying that before you've done your work?
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, in the last Congress we saw that this last Congress and the Congress before handed out huge amounts of money to this administration that were misused. TARP money never authorized the bailout of car companies and their union pension programs. Well, causing the bond holders to be stiffed. So there has been a great deal of misuse of those monies, but I've always said that Congress is more to blame. We have absolute obligation to deliver our money without that kind of specificity. So you know I've never blamed the administration alone. They were given this money. They misused it but the fact is they were given this money.
KING: But you have called them corrupt, sir. You just twice used the word "misused". That's a judgment on your part and you will have subpoena power. You can have hearings. You can call out the witnesses, and we will see what the evidence shows in the weeks and months ahead. Was it wrong to use the word "corrupt", which you have used repeatedly when you have not yet had a hearing?
ISSA: I think people misunderstand the meaning of the word "corrupt" and obviously CNN does. Corrupt or corrupted or failure, it's no different than a disk drive that's giving you some bits that are wrong. I've never said it is illegal. I've never made any of the statements that are often said on CNN that imply wrongdoing of the president at a criminal level, but I do believe that the American people have changed the control of the House in no small part because they saw more regulation, more misspending than they ever dreamed possible and they need Republicans to be part of the balance to bring that back under control and we have to be honest.
A lot of that misconduct, if you will, of too much loose money started years ago under Republican president, Republican Congress. So understand, as chairman, I intend to go back to the beginning of the Bush administration and look at the early funding of the war and many things that can never be allowed to happen again. We cannot give the president blank checks for walking around money.
As Dictionary. com defines the adjective "corrupt":
1. guilty of dishonest practices, as bribery; lacking integrity; crooked: a corrupt judge.
2. debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil: a corrupt society.
3. made inferior by errors or alterations, as a text.
4. infected; tainted.
5. decayed; putrid.
As such, there are many meanings beyond what most folks associate with this word that can certainly be attributed to this White House before Issa's committee starts its first investigation.
That Obama-lovers on CNN don't see it that way is by no means surprising.