Back in March of this year, Talking Points Memo had a story about two speakers at the Darke County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner cracking birther jokes during their remarks.
One of those speakers was State Rep. Jim Zehringer (R-Fort Recovery) who made his remarks while introducing Rob Portman:
Here was Zehringer’s response to TPM when contacted regarding his comments:
In a brief interview today, Zehringer said he didn’t remember making the quip, but added that the spirit of the dinner was one of playful "teasing."
"There was a lot of teasing going on. I don’t know if I said that. If I did, I’m not going to lie about it," Zehringer said. "There were some things said in jest."
He said he was more marveling at the Wikipedia entry about Portman being an American lawyer since he’d "never heard that term before."
"Isn’t it great that we live in a country where we can laugh?" Zehringer wrote me in an email after our interview.
He never apologized. Never acknowledged that it was a line too far, even in jest. Never acknowledged that it may have been inappropriate.
And now, Governor-elect John Kasich has nominated him to run a Cabinet-level agency.