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State senator denies she has medical condition that could explain outburst seen on video

  • News/-- Senator Pat Wiggins of the Second Senate District, left, discusses Thursday's senate calender with Susan Boyd, a Principal Consultant of the Senate Select Committee on the California Wine Industry, Wednesday August 13, 2008 in Sacramento. The two were headed to a political function at the Sutter Club. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2008

State Sen. Pat Wiggins, making her first public comments since her interruption of a pastor with an expletive a week ago, said Wednesday in her Capitol office that she regrets the remark, calling it a misunderstanding.

"I blurted out something I didn't mean to," the 68-year-old Santa Rosa Democrat said.

Wiggins has been under pressure to publicly comment on the exchange, in which she uttered the word "bull----" while interrupting the pastor during an otherwise mundane capitol hearing last Wednesday on global warming.

The senator's words -- and the pastor's shocked reaction -- gained widespread notoriety, thanks to a video of the incident being posted on the Web file-sharing service YouTube, the repository of so many political gaffes.

Wiggins and her supporters defended the exchange as an isolated incident while extolling her work as a legislator. Others, however, provided more troubling examples of her reportedly brusque, sometimes odd behavior in recent months -- behavior that has caused concern about the senator's emotional stability.

Wiggins on Wednesday flatly denied that she has any medical conditions that might explain the sudden outburst. Regarding concerns about her ability to recall things, the senator said she has trouble remembering faces but makes up for the deficit by "being friendly."

Emotional apology

At Wednesday's interview in her office, the reporter's name was written on a legal pad placed in front of Wiggins.

Her aides, aware there are concerns the senator has to rely on business cards and statements written in advance for her because of perceived memory issues, said writing the reporter's name down is standard practice, one used by many senators who deal with dozens of people during the course of the day.

The 15-minute interview, held after a morning in which Wiggins garnered passage of bills related to Spud Point Marina at Bodega Bay and identity theft, started with the senator pushing a remote control for a TV across, and off, the table. "Put that somewhere," she said to aides who were in the room with her.

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