Like most states, Kansas has had its share of public officials making inappropriate, offensive, dumb-headed and simply bizarre statements.
In the past decade, Kansas politicians have hit various levels of "fame" with their comments.
In 2001, Kay O'Connor, then a Republican state senator from Olathe, made news around the world when she was quoted as saying that women wouldn't need the right to vote if men took care of them adequately.
In 2002, then-gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Sebelius said, "The roads in Missouri were much more terrifying to me than the attacks on the World Trade Center."
In 2009, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, received flak for using the term "great white hope" in reference to finding a Republican who could effectively lead the GOP.
State Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, received national attention when he posted on YouTube a "RedNeck Rap" video heckling President Obama while Otto was wearing a baseball cap with the phrase "Opossum, the other dark meat" on the front.
And just this February, state Rep. Connie O'Brien, R-Tonganoxie, received attention for claiming she could tell a young woman was an illegal immigrant just by looking at her. How? "Well, she wasn't black, she wasn't Asian, and she had the olive complexion," O'Brien said.
So Kansas has a nice little history of politicians sticking their feet in their mouths and managing to offend various groups of people. However, the most recent transgressor makes all of the others look like pikers.
On March 14, state Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, had the Internet and news wires buzzing immediately with his remarks during a House hearing that illegal immigrants could be gunned down like wild pigs. Peck said: "Looks to me, if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem." He added later that he was just "speaking like a southeast Kansas person."
Peck later apologized, briefly, on CNN for his "inappropriate comment," and in a press release, where he did not say his comments were inappropriate but instead were "regrettable." Several groups have called for him to be disciplined by the GOP and for him to resign, neither of which seems likely.
What, if anything, should happen now? That seems to be up to Peck, but he might look for a clue from, of all people, former U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and from Otto.
After being elected to the Senate in 1990, the liberal firebrand Wellstone held an anti-war press conference at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The reaction from veterans against Wellstone was overwhelmingly negative, and Wellstone later wrote that he "deeply hurt many Vietnam veterans, really, all of the veterans community."
After his apology, he set up meetings with veterans groups throughout his state, where he apologized and listened to their stories. By the time he died in a plane crash in 2002, he was considered the biggest ally of American veterans in the U.S. Senate.
As for Otto, after the controversy over his video he addressed an open meeting of the local and state chapters of the NAACP to explain his comments, take questions and apologize. He later posted a pro-Obama "rap" on YouTube.
In short, both Wellstone and Otto realized that through their words and actions they managed to hurt some people, even if inadvertently. Then they set about, in their own way, to ease some of that hurt. It will be interesting to see if Peck does the same.