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Another Lorena Bobbitt Moment for the Vitters

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The standard playbook for disgraced politicians is all too familiar. Apologies should be generic with no mention of a specific transgression. The voice should be passive. If your wife hasn't already filed for divorce, vow to spend more time with her and the children.

If everybody's still on board, humiliate them further by making them stand with you at your press conference. Bring God into it. Promise that next time you'll consult Him a lot earlier in the process and show gratitude for his commandment to your constituents about not casting the first stone.

The latest politician to consult the playbook is Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican. He turned up in the proverbial black book of the alleged "Washington Madam,'' otherwise known as Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

In a terse statement on Monday, Vitter said, "This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling.''

That's confusing. (The playbook wouldn't have it any other way). Is he saying his business with the Washington Madam occurred several years ago, and his wife and God have already forgiven him? Or is he confirming a report in the Louisiana press published just before he abandoned a race for governor in 2002 that he was a steady client of a brothel in the French Quarter of New Orleans and was forgiven for that? The latter would imply that his earlier pardon covered future incidents.

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