When Congressmen Attack

| Mon Jun. 14, 2010 11:51 AM EDT

The political gods have just smiled on Renee Elmers. She's the Republican candidate in North Carolina's second congressional district who up until a couple hours ago was thought to have almost no chance of unseating the incumbent, Democratic congressman Bob Etheridge. Her prospects may have just gotten a boost courtesy of an ambush-style video starring an irate Etheridge roughing up a young man who claims to be a student working on a "project."

The videos—posted to YouTube on Friday and highlighted by the Andrew Breitbart-run site Big Government this morning—are now burning up the intertubes. Etheridge has apololgized, but his hot-headed reaction has provided his rival with a readymade attack ad (literally). 

It's unclear whether anything took place off camera in the lead-up to this confrontation that set Etheridge off, but it's hard to imagine he could have behaved in a more unflattering manner. And there's really no excuse for getting physical. Per the video, Etheridge was simply asked whether he "fully" supports "the Obama agenda." The interviewer and camera crew may have been angling to catch the congressman acting evasive, or maybe saying something dumb or damaging. If so, he played directly into their trap and then some.