Arnaud Montebourg, French Minister of Industrial Recovery

Arnaud Montebourg (pictured), French Minister of Industrial Recovery, was recently the target of a rather despicable slur at the hands of Mitsubishi France's leader, Jean-Claude Debard.

Frustrated by Montebourg's attempts to encourage the purchase of lower emitting vehicles and discourage use of high-emission vehicles – by way of tax breaks and tax hikes, respectively – Debard reportedly used the occasion of a new product launch to call the minister "stupid," a "mental case" and a "retard" before members of the media. Here's the full quote, as reported by the French newspaper La Provence by way of The Telegraph:

"This mental case, this retard, increases ecological taxes, reduces the speed motorists can go on Paris' ring road and ruins the life of motorists from all social origins all suffer as a result of him. He is stupid and understands nothing, you can quote me on that."

And quote him they did, it seems.

Mitsubishi's Debard may have legitimate points to make about the French tax structure's effect on the automotive sector in that country, but finding a more level-headed way to get his thoughts across to the media would probably be a more effective strategy if he wants people to take him seriously. His use of the word "retard" reminds of a recent similar statement by American political pundit Ann Coulter that triggered a firestorm of criticism. The response to that tweet, quite eloquently answered by John Franklin Stephens of the Special Olympics, might serve as recommended reading for Debard, as well.

No word on what, if any, reaction the Japanese automaker has to Debard's statements.

UPDATE: According to a new report by La Province, Montebourg has resigned effective immediately and Mitsubishi has issued an apology. Thanks for the update tip, Daniel!