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Who TMZ'd Rep. Bob Etheridge?

Last week Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.), who's seen as a safe bet for re-election this year despite representing a somewhat conservative (Cook R+2) district, ran into two self-described students with video cameras outside of a fundraiser.

"Do you fully support the Obama agenda?" asked one of the students.

"Who are you?" asked Etheridge, grabbing one of the cameras and pointing it down -- a move more typically seen from Hollywood bodyguards than congressmen. The second camera rolled as Etheridge, irritated, held the wrist of the first cameraman, then pulled the student to his side and grabbed him in a hug.

"We're just here for a project, sir," said one of the students.

"I have a right to know who you are," Etheridge said.

"I'm just a student, sir," said one of the students.

It went on and on, with the grappled student asking to be let go, until he broke free and Etheridge left. The videos were under a minute long. On June 11, a new YouTube user named "DCCameraGuy" posted two videos, one from each camera.

No one noticed, though, until today, when Andrew Breitbart's Big Government posted the video -- an edited version posted at another YouTube account -- with a commentary from editor Mike Flynn.

So who are the students? I don't know. The National Republican Congressional Committee tells me they didn't send them, and "DCCameraGuy" has yet to respond to my e-mail. But without any name or organizational support, just by riling up a member of Congress, the students have created the first conservative meme of the week. They seem to have learned from organizations such as ThinkProgress that any video of a member acting strangely, no matter how grainy, is grist for the Web.

By David Weigel  |  June 14, 2010; 10:33 AM ET
Categories:  Conservatives  
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