Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

Let’s talk about sex

It took only a few years in the Senate woodshed, and now the political rehabilitation of Sen. David Vitter looks complete .

Our colleague Paul Kane on Tuesday had Vitter back in the good graces of voters and colleagues alike. Who can forget how his number showed up in the notorious black book of the “D.C. Madam,” causing the Louisiana Republican to admit before the cameras a “very serious sin”? Apparently, quite a few folks.

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.

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(Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press) - Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., exits the Alexandria, Va., general court after his sentencing for drunken driving Dec. 8, 2008. Fossella was sentenced to five days in jail, a humiliating coda to a political career ruined by revelations he'd fathered a child from an extramarital affair.

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But the senator’s reversal of fortune isn’t unique. There seems to be a boomlet of political comebacks underway. Maybe it has something to do with the onset of spring, the season of renewal?

Take Mark Sanford down in South Carolina. The former governor, who lied about hiking the Appalachian Trail while visiting his mistress in Argentina, has a legitimate shot at becoming the Republican candidate in the Palmetto State’s special congressional election. And in the three-makes-a-trend rule, there’s also former congressman Anthony Weiner, who this month tested the waters with polls gauging the public’s willingness to put aside those photos of his undies-clad crotch he sent to a young woman who wasn’t his wife.

And for a bonus entry in the Gallery of Second Acts, Long Island media types are chewing over a possible political future for former congressman Vito Fossella (he of the DUI arrest that led to revelations of a mistress and a love child).

Fossella’s response: “I don’t know what the future holds.”

Last year, he told the Loop he “wouldn’t shut the door.” Sounds like a potential “Put me in, coach!” to us.

So how did these guys, whose collective scrapbook of embarrassment includes hookers, an Argentinian mistress, a secret family, naughty photos and lies aplenty, get second chances — or at least glimmers of hope?

Communications guru Lanny Davis says the price of admission is showing regret when caught. Not just crocodile tears, or the perfunctory script-reading that was Tiger Woods’s first public response to his sex scandal, Davis says, but the genuine article.

“If you show sincere, authentic pain and remorse, the public is willing to forgive,” he says. “It’s human.”

Which should give hope to former CIA director David Petraeus, who was slated to give a speech Tuesday night — his first turn in the spotlight since he resigned his job amid a scandal over an extramarital affair with his biographer.

Buried in work Down Under

Monday’s snow may have snarled traffic in the Washington area, but for 16 Senate staffers now on a trip to Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand, the early-autumn weather should be quite a bit warmer.

This is not a codel, or congressional delegation, but a staffdel — by the staff of the Senate Finance Committee. And we’re told they’re flying commercial, no spouses or significant others.

Still, the 13-day jaunt could be a little pricey — a government-fare round trip to Hanoi, for example, is around $3,500 a person. And the government per diem, if they spend equal time in each country, would come to about $60,000.

This is well worth the money, we’re told. The bipartisan group — 10 D’s and six R’s — is preparing for the upcoming debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement being negotiated between Washington and 10 other countries. A very big deal.

And the group is going to meet with senior government officials and trade and industry leaders in the three countries.

“Working on international trade negotiations requires international travel,” a committee aide noted. Someone’s got to do it.

So it’s just work and more work for the intrepid group, which was scheduled to include Jonathan Cordone, Bill Ghent, Erin Gulick, Ann Woods Hawks, Bruce Hirsh, Greg Kalbaugh, Mark Libell, Jennifer McCloskey, Katherine Mongé, Paul Poteet, Hun Quach, Amber Sechrist, Chris Slevin, Chris Sullivan, Chelsea Thomas and Eric Toy.

No time for the Great Barrier Reef, the “real” land of Mordor (Tongariro National Park ) or Ha Long Bay? Hmm . . .

The suit-and-earpiece crowd

While President Obama has named Julia Pierson as the new director of the Secret Service, the agency’s former chief is forming a powerhouse firm of odd bedfellows: Mark Sullivan is teaming up with the owner of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf, to form a new security company.

According to paperwork filed in Arizona and first reported by the Center for Investigative Reporting, other partners include Dennis Burke , former U.S. attorney for Arizona, and Noah Kroloff, who recently left his job as chief of staff to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Sullivan retired last month after nearly three decades at the Secret Service and was director since 2006 — a tenure that spanned the scandal last year in which agents hired prostitutes while preparing for a presidential visit to Colombia and a November 2009 incident in which now-divorced Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashed a White House state dinner.

The limited-liability company is called SRB2K and will also go by the name Global Security and Intelligence Strategies, a spokesman tells the Center for Investigative Reporting. Which is a little cryptic. But then again, that’s kind of the point, no?

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

 
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