Back before he was running for president, and before he was a senator, Bernie Sanders was a congressman.
And based on this CSPAN clip from 1995, it's clear that Representative Sanders is pretty similar to the more senior politician he is today.
Let's set the scene: It's the mid-90s; Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the law of the land; and the issue of gays in the military somehow comes up during a House of Representatives session concerning changes to the Clean Water Act.
Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Cal.) was a Navy man and represented a lot of fellow Navy men in his district, which includes the city of San Diego. He was not a fan of Big Government and felt the changes to the CWA being discussed would hurt his constituents somehow. In his rant, he said:
Is there any shocking doubt the same people that would vote to cut defense $177 billion, the same ones who would put homos in the military…
At this point, he is interrupted by a few people, including Bernie Sanders, to which Cunningham responds:
…no I will not. Sit down, you socialist.
After a couple of minutes of trying to get the situation under control, Rep. Sanders (Cool Guy-Vermont) finally gets a chance to speak and takes Cunningham to task for his remarks about gays in the military:
My ears may have been playing a trick on me, but I thought I heard the gentleman (Cunningham) a moment ago say something about quote-unquote homos in the military. Was I right in hearing that expression?
Cunningham affirms, but says he was referring to "military" types who do not want homosexuals in the armed forces. Then Sanders lays into him:
That's not what you were talking about. You used the word "homos in the military." You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line. I think you owe them an apology.
Cunningham's face after is a pretty clear indication of his defeat in this particular exchange.
Also: huge points to Congresswoman Pat Schroeder for asking (under parliamentary inquiry, of course) if she "had to refer to the gentleman as a gentleman if he's not one." The chair recognizes that as a sick burn.
Duke Cunnigham later served seven years in federal prison on corruption charges and is currently living in Arkansas. Bernie Sanders is currently second in most Democratic primary polls and is polling favorably against most of the Republican hopefuls.
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org