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.
Even the evangelical pool seems to have been tainted. Not quite a year ago, the Rev. Ted Haggard admitted to buying methamphetamines and receiving a massage from a gay prostitute, who claimed to be the pastor's lover of three years. Haggard denied the relationship, but nonetheless resigned as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Craig, who had not resigned from office at this writing, despite urging from fellow senators, did quit as co-Senate liaison for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. A spokesman for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has lived a life so clean he looks younger than his sons, said the campaign accepted Craig's decision.
And then everyone fasted and scrubbed their hands with lye.
Rudy Giuliani's campaign took a similar hit several weeks ago when his South Carolina campaign manager, state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, was indicted for buying and distributing cocaine. Did we forget anyone?
Outing Republicans as closeted gays, philanderers and drug users has become modern sport for hypocrisy posses, including Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, whose investigative team actively seeks evidence against Republicans who fall from grace. Flynt's team was responsible for breaking the Vitter news.
It does seem that the erstwhile buzz-killer party is on perpetual spring break. Republicans Gone Wild! The truth is that Republicans are no better or worse than Democrats. The difference is that Democrats are more open and forgiving of their human frailties, while Republicans -- bless their hearts -- try to take the moral high road where secrecy and shame necessarily ride shotgun.
The higher the road, of course, the harder the fall. And hypocrisy always shadows failed virtue.
As the 2008 election looms, the political parties seem to have traded places. The Democratic Party is now the churchgoing, family values party, with Mama Clinton as lead lip-purser and aspiring scold-in-chief. She's earned it.
Republicans may as well kick back, enjoy a reprieve from the impossible burden of perfection, and get those bumper stickers to the printer: They Don't Call Us The Grand Old Party For Nuthin'!