Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON -- In the interest of time and limited space, rather than mention all Republicans who are either closeted gays or clients of escort services, we'd like to ask those who do not belong to either group to please come forward.

Ah, excellent. Thank you both for coming.

What's up -- or going down -- with the GOP? Is there something in the water? Are Democratic operatives lacing Republicans' Dasani bottles with heavy sodium, as in Walker Percy's novel "The Thanatos Syndrome"?

Paging Dr. Thomas More.

In Percy's novel, More is a psychiatrist who notices that people in his town are acting strangely. Speech patterns are peculiar and, more to the point, sexual inhibition is missing. Apparently, someone has been loading the water supply with heavy sodium to suppress cortical function in an attempt to eliminate depression and other afflictions. Side effects include an Olympian libido.

Recent revelations about Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's odd behavior in an airport men's room, where he allegedly sought to bond with an undercover cop in the adjoining stall, are so bizarre that speculation along science-fictional lines seems as sound as any other.

Craig, who has disavowed a guilty plea to disorderly conduct, says he copped just to make the nasty thing go away. Can't blame him.

Maybe he didn't run his hand along the bottom of the stall divider, which we're told is well-known in certain circles to mean, "I'm in the mood." And maybe Craig really does have a wide, manly stance and was

not trying to touch the other man's foot. Benefit of the doubt granted.

While doubt is clouding saner minds, another perplexing issue tugs at credulity: Why are undercover cops hanging out in airport restrooms? Are we all done with terrorists? Does this mean that Appalachian grandmothers can pass through airport security without being frisked for explosives? Just asking.

Democrats must be backstroking in schadenfreude as the party of family values -- propped up by evangelical America -- seems to be wandering in the wilderness of moral confusion. Craig is but the most recent Republican caught in compromising circumstances.

Earlier this summer, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's telephone number was found in the phone records of a Washington escort service. Last September, former Florida Rep. Mark Foley admitted writing sexually explicit e-mails to a teenage boy who previously had served as a House page.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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