From Foley to Frey: The Year in U.S. Scandals
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One Congressman drives to Capitol Hill for a vote at 2:45AM and crashes his car.
Another sends sexually explicit emails to congressional pages.
The senior pastor of a 14,000 member church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals is fired for a relationship with a drug dealing male prostitute.
The nation's leading radio talk show host is detained at customs for mislabeled Viagra on the heels of other drug troubles.
And of course there was Mel.
Clearly 2006 was a year of bad behavior in high places. Bad behavior, that is, of evil twins -- since none of the accused took responsibility.
U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy's evil twin took Ambien, a sleeping pill, and a nausea pill before driving to Capitol Hill in a blackout in the middle of the night "for a vote" in May and crashing his Ford Mustang.
"I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions," said the Rhode Island Democrat though he did remember, "I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident." Whew!
Ambien, it turns out, also had an evil twin that made people sleep walk, sleep drive, sleep eat and apparently sleep vote with no recall and Sanofi-Aventis was forced to run ads reminding people to only take it if they were going to bed and staying there. (Or you'll break out in handcuffs, as the joke goes.)
Disgraced former Florida congressman Mark Foley -- the only Republican to get a mandate after the last election quipped Leno -- wasted no time in blaming his salacious emails to underage pages on an evil twin who was an alcoholic and abused by a priest.
And the accused priest, Rev. Anthony Mercieca, wasted no time in blaming his evil twin for the alleged abuse. "I had a nervous breakdown and was taking some pills and alcohol and maybe I did something that he didn't like."
Even convicted Enron financial officer Andrew Fastow had an evil twin who was hooked on tranquilizers to "cope with the implosion of his company, the imprisonment of his wife and his prosecution," reported the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. And come up with names like Raptors and Chewco you can't help but wonder?
The former Rev.Ted Haggard did not blame an evil gay twin for the services and drugs he admits buying from massage therapist Mike Jones. That's because he was already blaming gay people for unwholesome lifestyles before he got caught.
Nor did talk show giant Rush Limbaugh blame his evil twin who abused pain pills and went to rehab in 2003 for his Viagra airport contretemps on his way back from the Dominican Republic. No, he said his luggage must have been switched with Bob Dole. (see: Dying is easy; comedy is hard.)
Of course the 2006 Hall of Shamers benefit from the Oprah dividend -- the public's desire to seek reasons to reprieve bad behavior.
You may have been able to preach, appraise legislation, invent off the book partnerships or address a radio audience, goes the logic, but you weren't really responsible because of addiction and/or childhood abuse.
And while the forgiven get another chance by this reasoning and forgivers get to think they're Oliver Wendell Holmes, no one brings up the fact that almost everyone behind bars suffered childhood abuse and substance addiction. That's practically the definition of a criminal.
Even Richard Speck was in a drug and alcohol blackout when he killed eight nurses and when told, allegedly said, "If you say I did it, I did it."
Still, as 2006 ends, it seems like everyone is blaming an evil twin for bad behavior. Everyone, that is, except factually challenged author of "A Million Little Pieces" James Frey who is looking for some actual bad behavior to blame.
Martha Rosenberg's work appears in U.S. dailies and magazines.