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Heard on the Hill: The Return of the Maverick

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is not a fan of the tea partyers in his chamber — or his party — and he’s not afraid to say it.

A week ago, he made the entire Washington press corps giggle when he called tea partyers “hobbits,” and then on Sunday, he slammed Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) while debating the debt limit deal with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on the floor.

“Does the Senator believe that defaulting on our national debt for the first time in our history … is good for America’s economy?” Durbin asked. He asked the former Republican presidential candidate whether he agreed with Toomey that “defaulting on the debt is not that big a deal” and can be “easily managed.”

McCain said he did not.

“As the Senator may know, I came to the floor a couple of days ago and made that [hobbit] comment,” the Arizona Republican said. (Everyone on the floor laughed.)

“The message we send to the world — not just our markets but to the world — that the United States of America is going to default on its debts is a totally unacceptable scenario and beneath a great nation,” McCain said.

“Amen,” Durbin interjected. (This exchange was very Sunday appropriate, no?)

McCain then blasted Toomey’s attempt to tie the proposed balance budget amendment to a debt ceiling increase because, McCain said, “it is not fair to the American people.”

In his view, it is unfair for lawmakers such as Toomey to insist a balanced budget amendment can pass when a supermajority is unattainable and then label the Democrats as the “terrible obstructionists” and “the terrible people” with “their flawed philosophical views about the future of America.”

“It pains me to say that I agree with the Senator from Arizona,” Durbin said. “But I do.”

Ladies and gentlemen, mark the day and the hour because the Maverick is back!

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