(CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - a lightning rod among opponents of the recent health care legislation - is being defended by an unlikely source: Conservative Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.
Coburn is a fierce opponent of the health care bill but told participants at a recent town hall in his home state that Pelosi is a "nice lady" who deserves to be treated with civility.
"Come on now, she is a nice - how many of you all have met her?" Coburn said to groans from the crowd. "She is a nice person. Let me give you a little lesson here, I hope you will listen to me. Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn't mean they aren't a good person."
The comments, first reported by Capitol News Connection and recorded by local NPR station KGOU, strike a markedly different tone than that adopted by the Republican National Committee, which posted a large "Fire Pelosi" banner on its Web site last month and pictured the House Speaker amidst balls of fire.
Coburn spokesman John Hart confirmed the comments and said he believed they came during a March 31 event in Oklahoma City.
In the same town-hall, Coburn reiterated his opposition to the health care legislation but warned town-hall attendees to be wary of information they receive about the bill on Fox News.
"What we have to have is make sure we have a debate in this country so that you can see what's going on and make a determination yourself," he said. "So don't catch yourself being biased by Fox News that somebody is no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don't know what they don't know."
The Oklahoma Republican and medical doctor also pushed back against one town-hall participant who said the legislation aimed to imprison people who don't buy health insurance.
"The intention is not to put any one in jail. That makes for good TV news on FOX but that isn't the intention," he said.
Coburn also advised his constituents to get their news from a broad range of sources: "Don't just watch Fox News or CNN, watch them both," he said. "I read two papers a day - the New York times, the Washington Post, and in between the Wall Street Journal. I get a perspective."
Tom Coburn is my new hero. The vitriolic rhetoric that has been spewed in Washington as of late have people thinking they can act as unruly, mean and spiteful as they want and it's OK.
I may contribute to Coburn's next relection campaign, and that would be my first time to give to a Republican. We need people in Washington who can agree to disagree.
Careful, Coburn. That bleeding heart, caring for other people stuff has no place in today's Republican Party. Good thing you're holding up the unemployment benefits package, or we'd start to think you might have normal human feelings.
Senator Tom Coburn,
Thank you for bring some sense of civility to the issue. Whether people agree or not, it's not cause for a civil war and if we continue to tear at each other doesn't that just hurt our country in the longrun?
I promise you, those who hate us, love the fact that we rip at each other.
Thank you Coburn....your dose of reality will serve this country well; please keep it up because your speaking for the majority of republicans (I hope).
Very refreshing comments from Coburn. Civility and decorum needs to be restored to the political process.
Is today opposite day?
A stand up guy from the GOP finally. A welcome sight.
As a real Republican it is nice to hear from a Republican that is not a megaphone for the lunatic right (Rush & Beck). Thank you Mr. Coburn.
Speaking of Rush, which country did he move to and when did he leave?
"...so that you can see what's going on and make a determination for yourself."
Great idea! When is it going to happen? Since Pelosi's mind boggling "we have to pass the bill so people will now what's in it"... we still don't know what's in it.
It's time more politicians expressed the position that we can disagree and still respect each other.
Bravo, Senator Coburn. I tip my hat to you. You sound far too fair and reasonable to be in politics.
Finally, someone who starkly contrasts from the position which we are all tired of. A man who wants an actual debate as opposed to simply saying NO NO NO NO NO
And I hate Fox News...the most biased network in the nation
This is a smart guy.
Gosh, I'm not a big Senator tom Coburn fan, but kudos for his advocacy of simple civility and and opposition to demonizing those with whom he disagrees.
Finally a Republican with the decency to address one of the faults within the party. We all may disagree without it becoming personal. If more Republicans would follow his lead, the party may become viable again.
Hmmm, what happened here? First Frum and now this guy, are they calling fox out for what it is? Let's keep watching, this could get interesting if CNN and others report about it and don't sweep it under the rug by this evening like the did with Frum's comment about fox, and his firing a couple of days later for saying fox owned the republicant party.
We need more guys like this in office.
Well it's about time someone on the far-right speaks up and tell the ditto-heads to read and listen to more than Fox News and Foxnews-lite CNN.
Senator Dr. Coburn reads well and throws the Wall Street Journal under his arm as a coverlet – over the other two real newspapers.
I read the NYT and WP too, to get the truth before it gets twisted and bent into lies.
Now Coburn... get back to work and pass that unemployment bill.
Finally, a sensible Republican comment on how Congress should act, not to mention the electorate.
My hat off for Coburn. I knew it, from a group of many at least one will emerge as the hero. Tom Coburn is the one. He is talking of what I expected to hear from GOP leaders. Well done Tom!
WHAT?!?! A Republican with common sense?!?! What is this country coming to???
Preston kathy nancy is going to have to get a little meaner the repubs do not like some one who is week
This is what people ought to be saying! I am growing so tired of the bashing. When we demonize the opposition, scare people with ridiculous extremes and create all of the animosity; no one wins!!! I am a public school teacher in Michigan where the Republicans say no new taxes whatsoever–we must cut the budget and live within our means. They say that taxes are business killers. UGH! What will kill the future of business in this state is a lack of educated individuals and crappy schools with no money to educate. If we do not stop crossing our arms, stomping our feet and insisting on getting "our" way, things will only get worse.
Wow, he reads 3 more newspapers a day than Sarah Palin! Seriously, kudos to Senator Coburn. He's loyal to the Republican party and, in so being, is trying to enlighten people to the importance of gathering information from a variety of sources. I might add that, should Republicans stop reading mass e-mails from unknown sources denigrating Obama and spreading hate through tasteless humor, there would be more time in the day to come to a true understanding of what the real issues are. For goodness sake, most of us are educated – – stop poring through doom-and-gloom e-mails that started with someone named 'southshallrise1' and look up the actual text of the bill on a government web site. It's out there!
Finally, a republican who saw through the right wingnut fox news and had the guts to put them off. "We report..we decide".