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Posted at 6:59 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Craigslist fail! So long, Rep. Christopher Lee (R-N.Y.)

By Alexandra Petri


After allegedly e-mailing shirtless photos of himself to an anonymous woman on Craigslist, married GOP Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY) is now resigning. "It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness," he wrote in a resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

The story broke when Gawker posted the photos and the (surprisingly tame) alleged e-mail exchange. One of the worst parts of this story is that it happened right after the Gawker redesign. "I think this is breaking news," everyone murmured, "but it's so visually unpleasant, I'm having difficulty telling."

I know Craigslist. I've spend a lot of time there since the Larry Craig incident. What can I say? I'm confused. Sometimes I peruse the Missed Connections, because my hobby is making intense eye contact with strangers on the Metro, then hissing, since I've heard that men like women who make a strong first impression. So far, no luck! Maybe I need to hiss louder!

But Craigslist, as I've written, is the last bastion of Web 1.0 -- anonymous, lo-fi, and one of the last places on the Internet not linked to your Facebook profile. Unless, of course, like Lee, you are apparently idiotic enough to use a Gmail account linked to your Facebook. Then, I can't help you.

In fact, this is less a story about hubris than it is about technological incompetence.

It used to be, when people in power had affairs, they did it right. You contacted a local madam, or a local sir, or you were John F. Kennedy and women emerged from cakes and fell into your arms. You met people and committed indiscretions in person, the old-fashioned way.

The preliminaries of sexual relationships, before the Internet, were a glorified form of chess by mail. "This month, I have removed one article of clothing," Abigail Adams wrote to John overseas. "Several months from now, I intend to unfasten my bodice, but right now I have to go manage the farm in your absence."

But now? There are so many technologies to use! You don't have to put yourself out there like that! Yet somehow Christopher Lee allegedly picked the exact sequence of activity that would guarantee he'd be caught -- even though we may simultaneously never know who posted a lugubrious poem to his lost love entitled "QUACK-A-LAC" on the Missed Connections page.

From an internet perspective, only someone who was practically trying to be apprehended would mail a shirtless photo of himself from his real e-mail address to a woman on Craigslist.

So if Lee really is this bad at hiding dubious behavior, I almost think he should have stayed in Congress. He might be an asset to the taxpayers.

By Alexandra Petri  | February 9, 2011; 6:59 PM ET
Categories:  Epic Failures, Only on the Internet, Petri  | Tags:  Congress, craigslist, oops, technology  
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What is the world coming to??? A republican having a heterosexual scandal??? Unheard of!!!

Posted by: itsthedax | February 9, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse

The GOP--the party of the sexually repressed. Of course, these guys don't see therapists so that means we'll continue to see repression translated into risky acting-out behavior.

Ensign, "Wide Stance" Craig, David "Diaperman" Vitter, etc. The list goes on and on and on.

The wives of GOP politicians better make sure they know where their husbands are.

Posted by: reporter1 | February 9, 2011 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping that this column would be about the new law in Romania that would prosecute witches whose predictions don't come true. But I'll have to admit that this story is even better, with the best punch line you've written so far.

It's interesting that the 46-year-old married congressman claimed to be a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist, which the woman found out through a simple Google search.

So why do so many powerful men lie and risk it all for a brief sexual encounter? I suppose it's for the same reason that dogs lick their balls.

And the witches in Romania would be perfectly safe if they predict that another congressional sex scandal will happen soon.

Posted by: divtune | February 10, 2011 1:29 AM | Report abuse

"I miss your lithe body, your stupid perfect hair, your humbling vocabulary, wit, and goddess-like energy. Plus that thing you do better than anyone... even without the National Anthem." @QUACK-A-LAC
This guy is obviously Alex Petri's ex-boyfriend. After Petri trashed the Star Spangled Banner in that column about Christina Aguilera messing it up, no man would dare play it while she was "doing that thing."

But after reading this part of the poem, I can see why she dumped him:
"I miss your alter. Let me come pray. Once more in your arms..
I'm longing to lay.

Posted by: divtune | February 10, 2011 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain to me why this idiot used his REAL NAME???????????

Posted by: SweetieJ | February 10, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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