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Of lesbian bondage, and Michael Steele

By Al Kamen
Friday, April 2, 2010; A16

It's been a difficult week for the media operation at the Republican National Committee, what with all this kinky sex chatter and such. The rapid-fire response team, which jousts regularly with counterparts at the Democratic National Committee, was severely tested after reports that the RNC had paid nearly $2,000 to a Southern California GOP contributor for meal expenses at a bondage-themed lesbian nightclub in West Hollywood called Voyeur.

As the story ran its course -- a staffer who organized the outing for donors was soon fired and the "Young Eagles" GOP fundraising unit was grounded -- the competing media operations went at it.

The GOP team was on its heels, playing defense. "Obviously . . . not appropriate," a spokesman said in an early response to the reports, adding that the outing was "not sanctioned" by the RNC and that an investigation was underway. But soon enough, a leading conservative was reported to be advising donors not to contribute to the RNC.

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote Wednesday morning that the words "RNC and lesbian bondage" are "tattooed on the American brain." By Wednesday afternoon a Google search for the words "lesbian bondage" yielded, as the first link at the top of the screen, a picture of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele -- who had nothing to do with the racy outing but whose leadership has been questioned since the revelation.

The GOP communications folks, real pros but dealt an impossible hand, attempted to deflect Wednesday by sending a low-key list to reporters of substantial DNC expenditures at fancy hotels and at Lucky Strike, a pricey -- relatively speaking -- bowling alley near Verizon Center.

The Dems gleefully jumped on that, saying these were all "ordinary" expenditures, and beside the point. "The DNC, unlike the RNC, does not conduct business while watching women engaged in lesbian bondage scenes," a spokesman acidly retorted. (We're checking on that assertion.)

By Wednesday evening the RNC had retreated onto more traditional turf, this time trying to shift the focus to President Obama's offshore oil drilling plan with a news release calling it a "smokescreen" for what is really a "job-killing moratorium."

Not bad, but then on Thursday afternoon, ABC News reported that the RNC had inadvertently sent a fundraising mail piece in March with a return number that leads to a phone sex line offering to connect callers with "hot horny girls . . . students, housewives, and working girls from all over the country."

This may go on for a while. And if Steele steps down . . .

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