"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

The strangeness factor


John McGee

When former Representative Anthony Weiner of New York became a household name, for all the reasons he’d rather not have, the immediate trigger was an e-sent image (later more) and sexting – not an affair as such. An affair might have been relatively ordinary; the guess here is that he might have survived that. But the Twitter and sexting … that had an element of the unusual, the exotic. There was something to talk about and pick apart. Over and over.

To this weekend’s case of Idaho state Senator John McGee, R-Caldwell, who has been on the often-mentioned short list, for several years now, for higher office, such as Congress or governor. (In hindsight, if he had run for the 1st district congressional seat last year he was so often mentioned for, he might well have won it.) So what to make of his adventures this weekend?

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office said that on Saturday night McGee had drinks at a golf course clubhouse, and late at night departed. He initially made a sort of wise decision, to walk rather than try to drive. But along the way he must have changed his mind, because he eventually found a Ford Excursion with the keys inside, and a travel trailer attached behind. He drove it for a bit (evidently not a long distance), eventually into a residential driveway in a try to turn it around. Unable to manage the trailer turnaround, he appears to have given up and fallen asleep in the Excursion. Children nearby, after watching him from a distance, called police, who arrested him after finding a .15 blood alcohol content level. McGee reportedly said that he was planning to go to Jackpot, Nevada.

Driving under the influence is a serious offense, but it isn’t so rare or unusual as to draw really heavy spotlights. Elected officials have go on from such cases to keep their offices.

What’s a little different here is the rest of it: The commandeering of the Excursion (which generated a grand theft charge from Ada County) and the plan to head off to Jackpot. People will be talking about this for quite a while – in Idaho at least, and very possibly well beyond.

This one will not be over for a while.

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