The Veep Gets Magnanimous with Joe (‘You Lie!’) Wilson

Accepts Obama-heckler’s apologies on the morning talk show.

Last Updated: September 10, 2009 @ 9:59 AM

South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson’s boorish behavior during President Obama’s speech to Congress last night — Wilson yelled out “you lie” at one point — is continuing to draw heavy attention both in Washington and on network and cable TV programming Thursday.

Vice President Joe Biden appeared on both ABC’s "Good Morning America" and on NBC’s "Today" and was questioned about it on both shows.

He told ABC’s Diane Sawyer: “I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed for a chamber and a — and a Congress I love. I served there for 36 years, and I thought it demeaned the institution. And I thought it sent a signal to every young person out there that — that was very, very damaging.

"But I know Joe. He apologized. I take him at his word that he got caught up in the emotion of the moment. But the fact is that the assertion the president made is absolutely true. It will not cover undocumented aliens.”

At NBC, he was asked by Meredith Vieira, “How do you possibly reach consensus with so much rancor. What would you say to somebody like a Joe Wilson.”

Replied Biden: “I would say, Joe, you embarrassed an institution I love. And you realized it and you apologized, and we accept the apology.

“But you know the real message, I think, Meredith out there was your next guest, John McCain and the Republican leadership. What did they do? They immediately — immediately stepped away from Joe’s outburst and indicated that apology was offered.

“I think what you saw last night is an exception to the rule. The rule is that the Congress is prepared — it is not divided like in the emotional way in which Joe Wilson’s outburst indicates. It is divided on some of the details of how to get about this. That’s legitimate. It’s real. We’ll fight that out in the next several weeks.

"But I saw a unity in the Congress in terms of the response to Joe Wilson’s demeaning comment, not only to the president, but to an institution I love.”