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Calif. Rep. Apologizes for Outburst

September 7, 1998

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Rep. Randy ``Duke″ Cunningham has apologized for making an obscene hand gesture and cursing during a speech to fellow prostate cancer patients.

``I am sorry. I was out of line,″ said Cunningham, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former Vietnam war combat pilot. ``I just get upset when people start bashing our military.″

The Republican also apologized for making a crude remark about fellow Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay lawmaker from Massachusetts, during the same appearance Saturday at the San Diego Rehabilitation Institute.

During the speech, Cunningham, who recently underwent prostate surgery, said a rectal procedure he had received was ``just not natural, unless maybe you’re Barney Frank.″

When he shifted his comments from cancer to his opposition to Congressional military cuts, Chuck Cotton, 74, criticized the lawmaker’s position. At that point, Cunningham made a hand gesture and swore at the man.

Cunningham said Cotton heckled him and used the gesture first, a claim the man denies.

``I did not heckle him at all, period,″ Cotton said Sunday. ``He’s trying to get himself out of it because he was in the wrong.″

Cunningham was not available for comment Sunday. In remarks made after his appearance, he said his actions were inappropriate for a member of Congress.

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