Monday, June 13, 2011

Some Strange Truths

Unless you've secluded yourself in a Trappist monastery recently, you've heard the sordid tale of Anthony Weiner, the bright young congressman from New York who got caught with his pants down, literally.

It seems Mr. Weiner was discovered sending suggestive pictures of himself via Twitter to a college-age woman in Seattle. The photographs were waist down and close up, sort of like a TSA pat-down.

At first he denied it, claiming instead his Twitter and Facebook accounts had been hacked and he was the victim of a vicious prank.

But, he added, "I can't say with certitude" that the picture is not of him.

Then, with the media snapping at his heels like a pack of pit bulls, Weiner admitted he has engaged in "several inappropriate" electronic relationships with six women over three years, and that he publicly lied about a photo of himself sent over Twitter to the Seattle woman.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," Weiner said. "The picture was of me, and I sent it."

OK, a bizarre story, right? But not unheard of. Earlier this year, Rep. Christopher Lee, R-N.Y., abruptly resigned from the House of Representatives after a report emerged that he had sent flirtatious e-mails, including one with a bare-chested photo of himself, to a woman he met on Craigslist. Lee is married and the father of a young child.

But the story of Anthony Weiner is more than the tale of a fallen politician. It's loaded with more truth-is-stranger-than fiction twists and turns then the road to Hana.


When Weiner became a young, single congressman, he dated a string of high-profile young women, according to published reports. Among others, he was romantically linked to television personality and "cybermodel" Alli Joseph.

About the same time, Weiner sponsored a bill to increase the number of visas available to models by 1,000. The representative's spokesman said it was just economics to bring jobs to New York City, but the New York Post was skeptical. "Seems Anthony Weiner is working hard to increase his dating pool," the tabloid quipped.

Eventually, love found Anthony Weiner and he married Huma Abedin, a longtime personal aide of Hillary Clinton, on July 10, 2010. Weiner is a Jew. Abedin is a practicing Muslim. Unusual, sure. But that's not the half of it.

Presiding at their wedding was none other than former President Bill Clinton. Which in retrospect might have been a bad omen.

After the scandal broke, Weiner reportedly called President Clinton to apologize for his transgressions, to which TV commentator Jon Stewart remarked, "Apologizing to Clinton for what, copyright infringement?"

As Weiner embarked on his sexting escapade, conservative bloggers were tracking his Twitter account so carefully that they sent warnings to women who were being followed online by Weiner to be wary of him, according to The New York Times.

Weiner was copied on the warnings.

Even so, knowing that he was being watched, he kept up his stream of lewd communications.

This information fell into the hands of Andrew Breitbart, a conservative commentator who had been largely discredited for selectively editing a videotape of an African-American official with the Department of Agriculture to make it appear she refused to help a white farmer. She was fired, then was offered her job back after Breitbart's methods were revealed.

Shortly after Breitbart disclosed Weiner's activities , he was suddenly being described as a "media force" in what could only be characterized as a major comeback.

In one of the strangest interviews in recent memory on CNN, the formerly discredited Breitbart was questioned by the formerly discredited Eliot Spitzer, who starred in his own sex scandal, about the currently discredited Congressman Weiner. Talk about strange bedfellows.

Weiner was a leading candidate to become mayor of New York City and had raised $3.9 million for a potential campaign in the 2013 mayoral election.

But with that run in jeopardy, the door has opened for a new candidate: Alec Baldwin.

Alec Baldwin? The guy who stars in "30 Rock" and has hosted "Saturday Night Live" several dozen times? Yup, the same.

An outspoken Democrat, Baldwin has apparently contemplated a political career for some time. Baldwin's rep, Matthew Hiltzik, told the Hollywood Reporter, "I wouldn't rule it out," when asked about the potential run for mayor.

If Baldwin is successful, he would join Al Franken as the second "Saturday Night Live" star to win political office. Franken is a U.S. senator from Minnesota.

You can't make this stuff up.

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