There’s been a large number of breathless reports and commentaries in recent days about the story of a Kansas congressman  who apparently got a little carried away during a recent congressional junket to Israel and decided to dive into the Sea of Galilee au naturel. Raleigh’s News & Observer even saw fit to run this rather absurd headline: “Ellmers went to Israel, did not skinny-dip.” 
But, of course, as is so often the case with mainstream political reporting these days, the reports and commentaries are missing the forest for the trees.
The real scandal in this matter is not that, for the umpteenth time, a knucklehead right-wing congressman went all “Hangover” on us when he got away from the hometown, the scandal is that he and 79 other members of Congress of both parties were on the trip in the first place as the guests of a lobby group!
Whether it’s about foreign policy or any other subject, it is simply wrong and ought to be illegal for public officials at any level to accept trips from lobby groups. It’s just that simple. If it’s important for a public official to make a “fact finding” trip then, doggone it, the public ought to pay for it.
It’s the existence of this culture of lobbyist-financed luxury and special insider access that underlies much of the public’s disgust with Congress. And the fact that news story after news story has ignored this plain fact in reporting Shinny Dip-gate is indicative of just how far our of whack things have become.