WASHINGTON - Gov. Jerry Brown had just finished meeting privately with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this afternoon when, on his way out, he ran into The Washington Times.
It did not go well.
"I'm just saying you've got some criticism that you've ceded way too much to the unions," said the Times' Kerry Picket.
"Give me an example," the Democratic governor said.
"As far as the education, teachers unions, and just as far as some of the contracts that have been negotiated, and that you could be making the same mistake that you made during your last administration."
"Which one was that?"
"Back in the day."
"When California had a $6 billion surplus, and was leading America, if not the world, in many different fields?"
Picket said, "Well, right now it's going bankrupt."
Brown and his advisers bristled.
"Untrue," said Brown, in Washington for the winter conference of the National Governors Association. "I've reduced the deficit that was left to me by a Republican governor from $26 billion to $9 billion, and I have a plan to reduce it to zero, and I'm working on it."
Picket kept on about bankruptcy, and Brown's press secretary, Gil Duran, told her, "You need to ask a question that's based on the truth."
Brown said, "You don't have to argue with her."
Then it went south. Picket suggested things changed in California when Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan came into office "later on," after Brown's first two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983.
"No, Reagan came before me," Brown said. "Reagan came after my father, and then I came after Reagan."
When Picket asked again about bankruptcy, Duran said, "You're lying."
Brown asked her, "Are you a Moonie, by any chance?"
Here's video of the aftermath between Duran and Picket.