It was train wreck television on Tuesday evening when now-retired Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) appeared on Fox News's Glenn Beck show and insisted that he had not crossed any ethical lines with staffers and was subjected to intense political pressure from the White House (including a naked encounter with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel). Still, Massa stressed, he was retiring from Congress on his own accord.
In a one-hour interview with Beck that had much of the journalism world gawking and twittering in amazement, Massa offered a series of bizarre, even inexplicable explanations for his abrupt departure from office. Coming just hours after news broke that the he was under investigation for groping multiple male staffers, Massa insisted that the interactions were playful in nature, though inappropriate in retrospect.
"Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe," he said. "I should have never allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was... I own this misbehavior."
If that wasn't enough of a head-scratcher, Massa grew even more cryptic and bizarre when the topic turned to his insistence that Democratic forces had forced him out of office -- because they were so worried that he would derail health care reform. He did say that the decision "not to run again" was his and his alone -- but he still pegged his immediate resignation to White House brow-beating.
And yet, the only evidence he could summon was basic and formulaic types of political pressure.
"It literally keeps me awake at night," he said. "Glenn, I have had people come to me, union leaders -- and I'm a union guy and I know you're not -- who look at me and said, 'If you don't support this health care bill, I will not contribute to your campaign'. Glenn that's a bribe."
Even Beck wasn't buying it, pointing out that what Massa was talking about was, in fact, just lobbying.
When the topic turned to the now-infamous moment in which Massa claims that Emanuel confronted him while naked in the House of Representative's shower to bark at him about a vote on the budget, things got even weirder. The ex-Congressman insisted that the confrontation did take place, even though the White House has denied it.
"I was in my first two months," he said. "I was in a battle about the budget, Rahm was angry with me. He poked his finger in my chest while we were in the shower. I went through it on the radio show. Not only did it happen, I will never forget it. Rahm Emanuel doesn't like me. I get it."
Through it all, Beck prodded (indeed, practically begged) Massa to point to specific cases where the chief of staff or anyone else did something legitimately corrupt. He couldn't.
"My arm has been twisted 17 times from Sunday," Massa declared. "It is called whipping."
The Fox News host seemed completely and utterly un-amused. And towards the end, he grew a bit hostile. "America, I've got to shoot straight with you," he said. "I think I've wasted your time. I think this is the first time I have wasted an hour of your time. And I apologize for that."
Massa tried, once more, to restate his case but to little success. He promised, however, that he would do one more interview before leaving the stage.
WATCH: Part I
WATCH: Part II
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more