When the inevitable day arrives where they get caught participating in their deviant activity of choice, some politicians take the high road, fessing up to their transgressions and either resigning or begging their constituencies for forgiveness in a last-ditch attempt to salvage their careers. Others, however, decide to invent an elaborate story that wouldn't fool a toddler.
This kind of scandal has almost become a cliche at this point: Florida State Rep. Bob Allen was a family-values conservative who opposed gay rights and, shockingly, then got arrested for offering to blow some random black guy in a public park restroom, and to pay the guy 20 bucks for the privilege. The guy turned out to be an undercover cop.
Who could possibly have seen that coming? But let's hear Allen's side of it ...
Florida House of Representatives
"Seriously, this big. How could I not ask?"
First off, Allen wasn't in the park that day hunting for some gay sex, oh no. You see, he had helped secure funding for that park and was just checking in to see how it was coming along. When a thunderstorm brewed up, he decided to duck into the public restroom -- presumably because somewhere deep inside, he knew that outwardly homophobic politicians who secretly love to blow random dudes are like human freaking lightning rods.
Florida House of Representatives
Oh, and Allen's "Recreational Interest" according to the House website? Water sports. You're welcome.
After he was nice and comfy in his bathroom stall, Allen noticed that there was a "stocky black guy" in one of the other stalls. Fearing for his safety (he said he didn't want to become a "statistic"), Allen did what anyone would do in that circumstance: He offered to take the guy out to his car, blow him, and toss him a 20 to sweeten the deal. It was the only thing he could do to avoid a savage murder at the hands of a stocky black man.
For some reason, the authorities didn't buy his "blowjob as a self-defense technique" story, and he was brought up on prostitution charges that would prove disastrous for his political career. But Allen wasn't quite done displaying his master excuse-making skills just yet. You see, the real reason he was being stripped of all his committee assignments had nothing to do with the prostitution arrest -- it was to give younger lawmakers the chance to serve in leadership positions.
Just like he gave that stocky black dude the chance to have an orgasm in lieu of a life of crime.
That Bob Allen, always the giver.
In March of 2010, New York Congressman and former naval commander Eric Massa abruptly resigned after only 14 months on the job amid allegations that he had sexually harassed a member of his staff. Nothing new there -- this kind of stuff happens all the time. So with the damage already done and his resignation already signed and sealed, that was pretty much that. Right?
Massa, seen here sexually harassing a Chevy Equinox.
Not quite. Before dropping out of the public eye, Massa apparently decided to try for some kind of excuse-making world record ... and one of his excuses was "It was just a tickle fight."
When details of the harassment allegation began to come into the light, Massa (who is married) claimed that it had all stemmed from one innocent quip at a wedding. In his own words:
... after, I don't know, 15 gin and tonics, and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne, a staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid ... I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, "Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you." And then [I] tousled the guy's hair and left ...
"All I did was get shitfaced and make some unwanted sexual advances. How is that harassment?"
Apparently deciding that this story didn't dissuade the public from believing he was a sexually repressed closeted gay man, he then said that the whole thing was a setup by the Obama administration, because Massa opposed the health care bill ... but then added the completely unnecessary detail that Obama's chief of staff confronted him in a shower room while they were both naked. He made sure to point out that no one was wearing a towel. Dripping wet, steam ever so slowly rising from their manly bits ...
Finally, Massa told TV host Glenn Beck that, sure, he manhandled a staffer, but there was nothing sexual about it: It was all a routine office tickling.
For more information, read Think Globally, Tickle Locally: Eric Massa's Guide to Leadership.
Or, as he put it, "Not only did I grope [a staffer], I tickled him until he couldn't breathe." Come on, man, why didn't you just say that from the beginning? If a couple of grown men can't play Tickle Monster in the halls of power, then what are our troops fighting for?
Many people would be honored to have been portrayed by Burt Reynolds on the big screen, but it's probably safe to say that J. Herbert Burke wasn't one of them. He's the lucky son of a gun who was the inspiration for Reynolds' sleazy character in Striptease, a congressman who gets caught in a strip club.
We'd consider it an honor to be portrayed by a shirtless, greased-up Burt Reynolds in any medium.
In 1978, Burke, then a six-term congressman for Florida's 10th District, was arrested outside the Centerfold Club in Dania after "conducting himself in a loud, vulgar and offensive manner." The cops hauled him off and tossed him into the drunk tank. And, for most of us, it'd just be a matter of paying the fine and serving some community service or whatever. But we are not silver-tongued politicians, able to weave masterful tales to get ourselves out of trouble.
According to the good man himself, Burke wasn't drunk, and he certainly wasn't at the strip club to watch bare lady parts jiggling in time to a disco soundtrack -- that type of behavior simply wouldn't be becoming of a member of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control. So what was he doing there, you ask? He was doing his job, goddammit. You see, Burke had witnessed two drug dealers who were about to make a sale, and, being an ever-vigilant member of the aforementioned committee and thinking only of his constituents' best interests, he followed them to the titty bar to observe their nefarious activities.
United States Congress
Above: Herbert Burke, not understanding the difference between "narcotics detective" and "congressman."
But rather than being praised for his superior sleuthing abilities, he instead found himself "abused" by the local police, as he recorded on the wall of his jail cell, in words that clearly only a perfectly sober person could compose:
My name is J. H. Burke. The time is 12:20 a.m. I have not been charged. I want to make a charge against the (illegible) by Dania police. I was molested by the Dania police without right of counsel with charges being made against me. I was abused, molested, abused and prevented from calling a lawyer, a friend or making a complaint. J. Herbert Burke.
Poor guy -- abused twice within the space of a single rambling sentence. And the abuse didn't stop there, because his story failed to impress either the judge (he was sentenced to probation and fined) or the voters of the 10th District (he lost his seat the following year).
But at least he can rest in peace knowing that, nearly 20 years after the events of that fateful, drunken night, his actions were indirectly responsible for bringing a few moments of joy into the lives of the countless adolescent boys who were able to sneak away with a VHS copy of Striptease.
This is what a legacy looks like.