The kissin’ congressman and the candid camera

     In a photo taken Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, newly-elected Rep. Vance McAllister, a Republican of Louisiana, waits to be sworn in at the Capitol in Washington. McAllister says he's asking his family and constituents for forgiveness after a West Monroe newspaper published a video that it says shows the congressman kissing a female staffer in his congressional office in Monroe, La. McAllister, only in office a little over four months, attracted national attention because of his endorsement from the bearded men of the 'Duck Dynasty' reality TV show. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo, file)

    In a photo taken Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, newly-elected Rep. Vance McAllister, a Republican of Louisiana, waits to be sworn in at the Capitol in Washington. McAllister says he's asking his family and constituents for forgiveness after a West Monroe newspaper published a video that it says shows the congressman kissing a female staffer in his congressional office in Monroe, La. McAllister, only in office a little over four months, attracted national attention because of his endorsement from the bearded men of the 'Duck Dynasty' reality TV show. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo, file)

    Few pastimes are more fun than witnessing the writhings of a “family values” fraud.

    For years we’ve seen a parade of these pols – conservative married moralists who practice the reverse of what they preach – and now we have yet another one, a real beaut. Let’s call it The Case of the Lip Locking Lawmaker.

    Down in Louisiana last autumn, Republican Vance McAllister won a congressional seat with the usual pious pitch, invoking faith n’ family n’ wife n’ kids n’ Sunday church. He managed to sustain that image – until this week, when a small-town paper in his district posted a video that shows him in an ardent embrace with another man’s wife. Check it out. This was no mere cheek peck in an office corridor. This was some serious face time.

    Of course, we’re all familiar with this kind of hypocrite – like Florida congressman Bill Young, honored by Christian groups for his family values, who had an affair and a baby with his young secretary while married to his wife of 34 years; like Nevada Senator John Ensign (“marriage is an extremely important institution in this country”), who slept with his best friend’s wife and subsequently tried to buy the couple’s silence with a payment of 96 grand; like Indiana congressman Mark Souder (“I am an evangelical Christian,” a married guy concerned about “the cultural and moral direction of this country”), who made a video endorsing abstinence-only sex education….then it turned out that he was sleeping with the aide who appeared with him in the video.

    Thing is, those three guys were never caught by a candid camera. McAllister’s constituents can actually watch him misbehave; in politics, nothing is more damaging than visual evidence. His lip-locking partner was Melissa Peacock, a congressional aide whose husband is a guy McAllister has known for decades. Somebody with access to that camera – it was mounted on a wall in the corridor outside McAllister’s district office – sent the passionate scene to the local Ouachita Citizen, which posted it Monday.

    It’s fun to watch the footage in tandem with the campaign ads that McAllister ran last fall. One ad shows McAllister boasting about “faith, family, country…that’s how my wife and I are raising our children,” but my favorite shows him in the kitchen surrounded by his helpmate and brood: “We have a big breakfast every Sunday before church. Kelly does the cookin’, I do the dishes….Kelly and I work to instill the values of faith, family, and country (and) defend our Christian way of life.”

    And how convenient it is that whenever a faith n’ family politician violates the Christian way of life, he tries to mitigate the damage by asking for Christian forgiveness. (In other words, they try to have it both ways. And heck, why not? It worked for the love guv, Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford.) McAllister released a predictable statement late Monday: “I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids….I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust…”

    Yeah, well. If McAllister hadn’t been caught on camera, he wouldn’t be hunbling himself and playing the God card. In fact, Melissa Peacock’s husband, who’s a tad upset at the moment, thinks it’s all a crock. Heath Peacock told CNN: “I know his beliefs. When he ran one of his commercials, he said ‘I need your prayers,” and I asked (him) ‘When did you get religious?’ He said, ‘I need the votes.’ He broke out the religious card, (but) he’s about the most non-religious person I know.”

    As for Melissa, she has been fired. Go figure. The kissin’ congressman, a consensual partner in the corridor scene, keeps his job…but the woman, a part-timer at roughly $20,000 a year, loses hers. House Republican leaders were asked about this yesterday, and the timing could not have been more inconvenient – it being Equal Pay Day on Capitol Hill.

    And what about that camera? Nobody knows who found the footage and sent it to the paper for online posting. The building’s landlord said that he and his employes didn’t do it. Other McAllister aides had access to the camera, but there’s no proof that any of them did it. (McAllister is demanding an FBI probe to find the leaker, which is a classic damage-control tactic: Try to go on offense.)

    But it really doesn’t matter who leaked it. The point is, we now live in a candid-camera world of total transparency – exposure is always just a few keyboard clicks away – and any “family values” politician who thinks he can breach his preachings and get off scot free is surely more stupid than horny.

    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1

     

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