Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welcome to the (legislative) Gun Show!

Several weeks ago, multi-millionaire Republican Congressman Christopher Lee was innocently perusing craigslist personal ads when he came across a 34-year old single woman looking for a “financially and emotionally secure 30-40 year-old single man who is at least six feet tall.” Like any conscientious elected representative, Lee took it upon himself to assist what he perceived to be a constituent in need by removing his shirt and taking a phone-pic of his upper-torso. 

Accompanying this portrait, Congressman Lee penned a brief paragraph describing himself as a 39 year-old “fun classy guy” currently working as a Washington lobbyist. In his haste, Lee innocently forgot to mention that he was married, had a son, and was actually forty-six. The two exchanged several e-mails in which Lee discussed how he had been disappointed that other women he had met on craigslist had “not been as advertised.”

Concerned that the complete stranger answering her anonymous personal ad on craigslist might not have been completely forthright, the woman plugged Lee’s name and e-mail address into a search engine which led her to his Facebook page. Realizing that he was actually a married Congressman, she forwarded the conversations and photos to celebrity gossip blog who posted the now-infamous shirtless picture. Within three hours, Lee had resigned and issued a canned apology, much like the service I offer here.

Much has been made of the rampant immorality displayed by Lee, and certainly one might expect more from a conservative, family-values politician in the way of marital fidelity, but as a taxpayer I find myself more distraught by his general lack of common sense. This is a man who made a name for himself by crusading for Internet safety but willingly provided his real name, a photo, and primary e-mail address (which directly linked to his personal Facebook page) to a craigslist personal ad.

In retrospect, I suppose America is fortunate he was only a Congressman. Had he worked for the Department of Defense, he might have accidentally Tweeted nuclear launch codes while trying to take the infamous pic with his Blackberry.

There is also painful irony in a man lying about his age, job and marital status while simultaneously complaining about a lack of authenticity concerning Internet personal ads. If we really want to go to the mattresses on this, I am not so sure that a middle-aged politician taking half-naked self-portraits in a D.C. men’s room can accurately identify himself as “classy” to prospective lovers. The combination of bare upper-torso and meticulously coiffed hair gives exudes a creepy homeless game show-host vibe.      

Among all of the lies Lee fed to the woman, the biggest whopper was when she coyly asked why he chose to send her the shirtless photo and he replied that “it was the only one he had.” Aside from a real estate agent, I cannot think of a career path that would have left him with a wider variety of professional portraits at his disposal than politics. The truth is that Lee was betting once his Internet paramour was given a complimentary single-day ticket to his gun show, she would have no other choice than to commit to a season pass.

Call it pessimism if you wish, but I no longer expect my elected officials to be ethical cornerstones in the community. My only request is that they exhibit enough intelligence to prevent themselves from being easily blackmailed. This guy sat on the Ways and Means Committee, the entity responsible for authoring every single piece of tax legislation affecting this country, and yet the level of stealth he exhibited in his sexual indiscretions made Wilt Chamberlin look like a secret agent. Does America really want a guy too lazy to register for a second Gmail account on the committee that tweaked N.A.F.T.A.?

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