Discuss as:

Grassley dismisses suicide talk as rhetoric

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Chuck Grassley is apparently the Potter Stewart of rhetoric.

In an interview with MSNBC's David Shuster, Sen. Grassley didn't apologize for his comments that AIG representatives should either "resign, or go commit suicide." Instead, he dismissed the question, saying people should know "rhetoric" when they hear it.

"I hope you recognize rhetoric," Grassley said, "and I shouldn't even have to answer that question…."

Video: Grassley says his remarks about AIG execs were just rhetoric.

Pressed by Shuster, who asked if Grassley had any regret for his phrasing, Grassley struck a defensive tone.

"I've stated that you oughta be able to tell rhetoric when you hear it," the Iowa Republican said.

He added that Japan has systems in place for recriminations against those who act shamefully or unethically in business.

"What I've been expressing ... is that we need to have that deep bow ... with some sort of apology," Grassley said, adding that the company needs to show "remorsefulness, contrition."

"I think the tax payers are entitled to that," he said, adding that "not giving out bonuses is just small recognition ... that they owe the am people a lot."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier today to expect legislation coming out of the finance committee within 24 hours. Grassley, who sits on the committee, said legislation is in the works, but he admitted that there is likely little Congress can do to stop these bonuses.

"It may be locking a barn door after the horse is stolen," Grassley said, "but we should take a look at what we can do" to at least change the law to try and prevent bonuses from being given out again to a company getting bailout money from the government.

Grassley also was complimentary of the Obama administration, saying that the "president improved his position by saying he's going to try and recover" some of the money.