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It used to be that puzzle time on the kitchen counter was a pretty innocent way to spend an hour. Even if it happens to be while listening to the nightly news as I botch another recipe with my proclivity to confuse tablespoons with teaspoons.

But that was before Anthony Weiner got a hold of a camera and a Twitter account. Since then, watching the nightly coverage with two three-year-olds has made for a very interesting take on national news.

Rep. Anthony Weiner is the Democratic New York congressman currently entangled in controversy surrounding a photo sent over his Twitter account. The photo in question was intended for a 21-year-old girl from Seattle with whom the potential New York City mayoral candidate – and very married politician – had been socializing on the popular networking sight. Instead, it was sent in such a way that the content of the message was visible to all of the congressman’s Twitter followers.

The three-year-olds in question (like most of us will agree) understand that wiener is, quite simply, a funny word. And when it’s being used on a “Mommy show” – something they normally would tune out for being too boring and void of bright colors and silly bodily noises – it becomes a hilarious word. Now, like a recipe that sort of creates itself, pepper in the words “picture” and “photo” and strategically say them right after the congressman’s last name, and you have something these two young boys (and perhaps, many of us) consider sheer comic genius.

All during the six-o’clock news.

Obviously my problem isn’t with the word itself; I didn’t even bother trying to hide my own giggles. And it is, after all, the guy’s name. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been caught saying far worse while destroying an otherwise perfectly good recipe. It’s the arrogance – not to mention the icky-ness – of the act itself.

Weiner spent the better part of the past week playing footsie with the media, clearly hoping his charm and inconsistent brush-offs would keep them and all of their pesky questions at bay. Unfortunately for the congressman, the new era of investigative bloggers didn’t swoon over him the way young girls appear to. Like Larry Craig in the airport bathroom, his story never did add up, and that’s what’s offensive. Where’s the shame? The humiliation? My preschoolers even understand that – as silly as it is – it’s still embarrassing subject matter.

The puns we can make are infinite and equally hilarious – to all age groups, apparently – and we all have a pretty good idea what the “tweet” consisted of. (I know a couple little boys who would gleefully tell you). But the truth is, lewd subject matter is well … subjective, so we should probably cut the guy some slack. After all, when you consider his voting record, it’s quite possible the “offensive” picture in question was merely a shot of a balanced budget.

This column was originally published in the June 8, 2011 edition of the St. Maries Gazette Record.
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