The office of Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) can’t make up for its boss appearing at the wrong congressional hearing, but it can attempt some damage control.

After the Loop’s story on Coats questioning a witness at the wrong appropriations subcommittee hearing went viral, several news outlets wondered how Coats could have sat through an hour of testimony and questioning before realizing he was in the wrong place.

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel went several rounds dissecting it Friday morning.

But though Coats began speaking about a state-based military personnel office more than an hour into the hearing on financial intelligence and terrorism, he had not sat through the entire thing. Because, as astute Hill watchers know, lawmakers rarely attend a hearing much longer than it takes to ask a question.

Coats’s communications director Matt Lahr blasted an e-mail to his press list to clarify that his boss had not been sitting idly in the hearing, daydreaming. The actual hearing he was supposed to be in, with a start time an hour later, was also underway, and Coats slipped into the wrong back door.

“After entering the room and reviewing his notes for 3-5 minutes, he was called on and the unfortunate moment occurred,” Lahr said.

But Coats’s office is keeping a sense of humor about the incident. The subject line of the e-mail was: “A funny thing happened on the way to the hearing.”