The contrasting visions have wreaked havoc on the appropriations process and raised the ire of the public and lawmakers alike as Congress struggles to accomplish its most basic duty: to keep the government funded.
"We have several new Members, especially in the House," Inouye said. "And many of them have had no involvement in government before. And apparently many of them campaigned on the basis that the government is too big, that it is not necessary.
"I have nothing against people believing in what they think is right," he continued. "I believe in certain causes that are not necessarily in the majority, but I would hope that people would understand they don't have to be disagreeable."
Inouye points to his friendship with the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) as a model.
Stevens "was as conservative as you can find, and I am considered a liberal. In most of our positions, we disagreed," Inouye said. "But the fact that we disagreed was not important. We were not disagreeable. He didn't yell at me, I didn't yell at him; I didn't curse at him and I didn't insult him."
Inouye and Stevens were such good friends that they also campaigned for one another.
"Our friendship was, I would say, real. We need more Ted Stevens," Inouye said.