Inflammatory Democrat Alan Grayson, 'Liberal Folk Hero' of Congress

Defeated Democratic and "virtual-bomb-tosser" Alan Grayson gets a a rather fond send off in the Times and certainly doesn't get the Newt Gingrich treatment (the Times omits the "virtual" when talking about Gingrich's rhetoric).

There's a relatively fond profile in Monday's National section of defeated Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, the fiery leftist and Republican hater whose offensive comments about Republicans may well have cost him his seat last November.

Reporter Michael Barbaro, previously known for his hostile coverage of Wal-Mart, called Grayson the "pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress," and the headline and text box are complimentary. "Enter: Swinging. Exit: Much the Same Way." The text box: "In or out of Congress, Alan Grayson is a man of strong views."

Barbaro only briefly dealt with Grayson's history of foul partisan fusillades, skipping Grayson's campaign ad calling Republican opponent Daniel Webster "Taliban Dan" (which may have cost Grayson the election).

After relaying a few newly minted Graysonisms like calling incoming speaker of the House John Boehner a "tool of special interest," Barbaro summarized the bombastic former lawmaker with a stream of ambivalent adjectives:

Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida's Eighth Congressional District, is leaving office on Wednesday much as he entered it two years ago - as the pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress.

By contrast, Newt Gingrich doesn't get the courtesy of the "verbal" modifier, but got the full villain treatment, bluntly called a "bomb thrower" on several occasions since his elevation to Speaker of the House in 1995.

Barbaro allowed Grayson space to defend his rhetoric, probably not a totally good idea, given Grayson's goofy pride in his YouTube popularity.

Republicans called him incendiary and over the top, or worse. When Mr. Grayson set up a Web site for himself called Congressman With Guts, a local Republican operative countered with a site called My Congressman Is Nuts.

Mr. Grayson said he had simply tried to put complex issues into accessible - and, yes, memorable - terms. "People say the same thing to me over and over again: 'You say what I am thinking but nobody else will say,' " he said. He likes to boast that his YouTube channel is the most popular of any House member's.

Exit question: Are they laughing with Grayson or at him?

You can follow Times Watch on Twitter.