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WHERE IS REP. JOE WILSON'S MOTHER?

Saturday afternoon has me moving along at what seems a snail's pace in the checkout line at the local Target, where the shopping list includes laundry detergent and other sundries needed to tend to the weekend household chores.

The economic downturn means fewer cashiers and longer lines, but finally it is my turn. I get about the business of unloading my cart when I realize that someone has jumped ahead of me and is loading her stuff onto the conveyor belt.

"Did she just cut in front of us?" I ask my 18-year-old daughter while I size up the interloper, a well-dressed woman who appears to be about my age and is avoiding my disapproving stare.

I probably could take her, but I'm not really thinking about that. I'm just wondering how she managed to avoid that basic line etiquette lesson that everybody else got back in elementary school where learning how to wait your turn is part of the curriculum.

How could an adult abuse such common courtesy? Was there some sudden emergency? Maybe she just thought her time was more valuable than mine - if she thought at all.

The thing is, if she had asked, I would have told her to go ahead.

It's one of those missed opportunities. I'll never know her story or have the chance to be gracious on my own terms.

That has me feeling perturbed and thinking that there sure are a lot of rude people in this world - what with the line-jumping lady and Joe Wilson, the congressman from South Carolina who was a virtual unknown until he yelled "You lie!" to the president during his address on health care.

I guess Wilson thought he was being contrite enough when he told reporters last Thursday that he had called the White House to apologize about his "spontaneous" outburst after party leaders contacted him and told him to.

It reminded me of my childhood when my mother, appalled at my own churlish behavior, would order me to apologize whether I liked it or not and "say it like you mean it or it doesn't count!"

Judging by his lame offering, the congressman never got that last part - even after fact checkers deemed him wrong in his assessment of the president's health care proposal.

On Friday, Democrats announced they were planning a vote on whether to formally admonish him.

That sounds like something mom would probably do.

"Admonish," according to the Free Online Dictionary: to take to task; to scold or rebuke. ie: "He admonished the child for his bad behavior"

That sounds just about right.

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6251.

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