In Washington, D.C., where members of the political elite pride themselves on subtlety and nuance, a political controversy rages about an alleged congressional underwear bulge. Welcome to Weinergate.
"This is part of the problem with the way this has progressed, and one of the reasons I was, perhaps, if you forgive me, a little stiff yesterday," said Rep. Anthony Weiner, a liberal Democrat and possible New York mayoral candidate.
Weiner has been quick with the bad puns ever since this story went viral. And it has infuriated him to the point of calling a reporter a "jackass." It all revolves around a photograph of an underwear bulge — purportedly belonging to Weiner — that was sent to a female college student on a Twitter account.
Weiner denied he sent the photo, suggesting he was the victim of hackers, but then complicated matters by saying something rather astounding, even by liberal New York political standards. Weiner said he didn't know for sure whether he was the person in the photo.
"It certainly doesn't look familiar to me, but I don't want to say with certitude to you something that I don't know to be the certain truth," Weiner told CNN.
The certain truth?
You'd think that a man would know at least that much. But the fact that he's not certain about it raises many suspicions.
It also sounds a bit creepy.
Reporters questioned why, if he was a victim of hackers, he hasn't called on law enforcement to investigate.
"I'm not sure I want to put national, federal resources into trying to figure out who posted a picture on Weiner's website, uh, whatever," Weiner said. "I'm not sure it rises, no pun intended, to that level."
You're a funny guy, Anthony.
One of his stratagems was the old pie defense.
"If I were giving a speech to a group of 45,000 people and someone threw a pie or an insult, I would not spend the next two hours of my speech responding to that pie or the insult," Weiner told reporters.
Sadly for Weiner, reporters were not interested in dessert, but rather why he was not asking the cops to investigate Weinergate.
"If it turns out there's something larger going on here, we'll take requisite steps," he told reporters.
Larger? Please. Stop.
Naturally, some of you assume he has no credibility. But the guy is reportedly a happily married man. He wed an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July. And who officiated as the sacred vows were said? None other than Hillary's loving husband, former President Clinton. So there.
The Weiners were blessed by Bill.
Since the story broke and reporters began asking him infuriating questions like, "Is this you?" Weiner has gone through the predictable stages.
Deny, deny, deny, backtrack, backtrack, lash out, make bad penis puns and shout "jackass" at reporters.
"You do the questions. I do the answers," he told reporters at a news conference the other day. "And this jackass interrupts me. How about that as the new rule of the game?"
While all this may have sounded to him like a brilliant strategy when he was shaving that morning, it didn't work out all that well in practice, and soon Weiner was doing one-on-one interviews in the hopes of limiting the damage.
"He can't say with certitude that 'It's not me,'" said Luke Russert of NBC, "meaning there's a distinct possibility that the photograph of the male 'area' below the waist could be that of Congressman Weiner."
I can't wait until Weiner runs for the job he's been reaching for: mayor of New York City. You could see his opponents' attack ads now. The script writes itself.
"If candidate Weiner cannot with certitude identify his own package, how can he be certain about stopping crime? Or improving schools? Can he handle the job?"
Will he withstand the pressure to become Mayor Weiner?