Young, 79, set off a fresh round of recriminations and hand-wringing among Republican leaders while talking about the people his father employed on his California ranch years ago.
"We used to hire 50 or 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes," Young said in the interview with KRBD. "You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine."
Young apologized Friday, saying, "There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend. It was a poor choice of words."
Even as several senior Republicans decried the remarks and called for a more thorough apology, some GOP advisers said the incident would reinforce how voters view their party.
GOP consultant John Weaver said the comment "hurts us," even though he described Young as "a dinosaur on the bridge of political insanity and irrelevance."
"Republicans like him will soon be extinct, and that's a good thing for the GOP," said Weaver, who has worked for moderate Republicans in recent years. "But in the meantime, when they make these remarks, it makes it harder for those of us who are trying to grow the base of our party."
Before Young casually referred to Latino ranch-workers as "wetbacks," an RNC official from Michigan this week engaged in a more deliberate effort to argue that being gay is an unhealthy lifestyle - posting an article to his Facebook page that labeled homosexuality as "filthy."
GOP leaders, who have never had much regard or use for the longtime and oft-embattled congressman from Alaska, were quick to denounce both him and the RNC committeeman, Dave Agema.
"The words used by Rep. Young emphatically do not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party," assured RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who last week launched the GOP effort to reach out to minority communities.
The problem for Priebus is, even if you grant that Young's and Agema's views are not representative of the broader GOP, they are high-ranking officials in the party who were elected to their positions. (Young has won 21 consecutive elections for his at-large House seat.)
And under the new media paradigm - when an isolated incident explodes on cable news and through online social networks - these remarks can quickly dominate the day's political discourse.
Some Republicans argue that there is a double-standard at work, in which the media focus on outlandish things that Republicans say and ignore similar rants by Democrats.
"There is always a market in the media for the craziest thing a Republican said today," said GOP consultant Ed Rogers. "There is nothing the left likes better than to find some off-the-wall statement by a Republican and then use it to tar the party as a whole. . . . That is why Republicans have to be extra careful."
The fact is that the GOP has much more to prove (and much more room for improvement) when it comes to minority outreach. And you don't have to look too far into the past to find instances of prominent Republicans taking pretty hard-line and often bluntly stated positions against the issues that gay people and Latinos care about most - same-sex marriage and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
That recent history isn't going to be forgotten anytime soon, which places a much greater onus on the party to watch what it says and how it says it.