"You're laughing," Clinton told the crowd at the Aspen Ideas Festival. "But he was quoted in the paper the other day saying he gave Republican senators permission" to scrap the subsidies. "I thought, 'My God, what has this country come to when one person has to give you permission to do what's best for the country?' It was chilling."
Of course, some of the toughest barbs aimed at Norquist don't come from the opposite end of the political spectrum; they come from some fellow conservatives and deficit hawks, particularly members of the old guard who served in an era when tax hikes were still a politically acceptable deficit-fighting option.
His feuds with some of these figures date back decades. More than two decades after George H.W. Bush's signoff on a tax increase first drew Norquist fire, the former president is still not a fan:
"Who the hell is Grover Norquist, anyway?" Bush asked Parade magazine over the summer.
Last year, former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson, whose Simpson-Bowles commission called for a deficit solution that included a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases, slammed Norquist's influence: "If Grover Norquist is now the most powerful man in America, he should run for president. He has people enthralled."
And this week, Simpson riffed on Norquist's infamous goal of reducing the federal government "down to the size we can drown in the bathtub."
"So how do you deal with guys who came to stop government, or Grover wandering the earth in his white robe saying you want to drown government in the bathtub," Simpson asked MSNBC on Tuesday. "I hope he slips in there with it."
Norquist --- widely viewed as one of the funniest men in Washington -- says he's unfazed by the attacks, and that the portrait of him as some sort of political enforcer is overblown. (Although his claim that he collects "whackers" -- items used to hit people -- probably doesn't do much to help banish the image.)
"I understand it comes with the territory that people attack me personally. Uh, it doesn't bother me. I am very comfortable in my own skin. If they want to waste their time personally attacking me, they're free to do so," he shrugs.