Republicans are dismissing an apology by incoming White House counselor John Podesta for telling a Politico reporter
last fall that Republican opponents of Obama administration policies in the House were "a cult worthy of Jonestown."
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., called Podesta's remarks "disgraceful" and "telling" urging the president to relieve him of his duties, Breitbart reported
Podesta had quickly expressed regret for the remarks via his Twitter account
. "In an old interview, my snark got in front of my judgment. I apologize to Speaker Boehner, whom I have always respected."
Jim Jones led his followers to Guyana where on Nov. 18, 1978, more than 900 of them committed mass suicide by drinking Flavor-Aid tainted with cyanide. Jones then shot and killed himself.
The tragedy also claimed the life of Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., who was murdered by Jones' gunmen. He had flown to Guyana to investigate reports of abuse by the cult.
Rep. Jacqueline "Jackie" Speier, D-Calif., then an aide to Ryan, was wounded in the incident.
Politicians from across the political spectrum have used the tragedy as a metaphor for irrationality.
In 2009, Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi compared Obamacare to Jonestown saying, "I've been looking for Jim Jones and where's the Kool-Aid. This is awful, awful policy for our country— and the people know it," Slate reported
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
criticized President Barack Obama's gun control policies saying, "this is a president who has drunk the Kool-Aid."
Tea party activist Jenny Martin termed Podesta's comments "despicable," according to USA Today
, "Any man who is so historically ignorant as to compare millions of Americans who cherish freedom with the macabre and mass suicide at Jonestown is unqualified to hold any position of authority. We recommend Mr. Podesta read a book on basic American history."
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