HOUSTON - He snapped giving testimony before a U.S. Congressional committee. Now, in his only on-camera interview, Rice University history professor Dr. Douglas Brinkley explained himself.
In 22 years teaching, Dr. Brinkley s never felt more popular. In class Tuesday, students cheered for him.
They clapped when I walked in, Dr. Brinkley said. I actually made a joke. I said don t follow my behavior!
Friday, while testifying about his passion -- protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling, Dr. Brinkley met a strong critic on the House Resources Committee.
Chairman Don Young, a congressman from Alaska, called Dr. Brinkley Dr. Rice and used the word garbage to describe part of Dr. Brinkley s testimony. The professor responded saying, It s Doctor Brinkley. Rice is a university. I know you went to Yuba College and didn t graduate.
Young responded by telling Dr. Brinkley, You just be quiet!
The two exchanged words a while longer before another congressman spoke up. On Tuesday, Young s office issued a statement.
What happened last Friday was nothing more than a publicity stunt by Mr. Brinkley in order to sell books, said Luke Miller, Young s press secretary. Witnesses are invited to testify before Congress to answer questions and provide insight, not repeatedly interrupt a committee chairman and members of the committee and be disrespectful. People will want to make this into more than what it really is; an attempt by an author to create a stir and sell books.
Dr. Brinkley insists he is not trying to sell books and said he is receiving little criticism.
I have received now hundreds of hundreds of emails from people all over, Dr. Brinkley said. I haven t received one negative one. I ve had the entire Rice University and including Texas conservatives cheering me on for standing up to his bullying tactics. I wasn t looking forward to some kind of conflict of any kind. But, these things confront you (in life). It hit me. I responded and I don t retract anything. I m very glad I held him accountable.
He is also glad his students seem to respect his behavior.