Cockburn has never been quite sure what to make of Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Previous GOP skippers have been easy for this Washingtonian workhorse to understand: John Boehner was an old-school cigs-and-digs backroomer, who frequently used to stop by Cockburn's table at Shelly's and rant about Ted Cruz apropos of nothing. Paul Ryan was a libertarian wonk in both the best and worst senses of the term.

But McCarthy? Other than accidentally blurting out the Republicans' entire anti-Hillary Benghazi strategy on a cable news bender several years back, he's never really stood out. Thankfully,...

Cockburn has never been quite sure what to make of Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Previous GOP skippers have been easy for this Washingtonian workhorse to understand: John Boehner was an old-school cigs-and-digs backroomer, who frequently used to stop by Cockburn’s table at Shelly’s and rant about Ted Cruz apropos of nothing. Paul Ryan was a libertarian wonk in both the best and worst senses of the term.

But McCarthy? Other than accidentally blurting out the Republicans’ entire anti-Hillary Benghazi strategy on a cable news bender several years back, he’s never really stood out. Thankfully, though, McCarthy isn’t totally devoid of Washington intrigue. Six years ago, rumors surfaced that he’d had an affair with fellow Republican rep Renee Ellmers of North Carolina.

That innuendo didn’t just derail McCarthy’s 2015 bid to replace Boehner as speaker; it helped ruin Ellmers’ political career. In 2016, she faced several primary challengers in her district, one of whom ran an ad declaring, “I’m not running against Renee because she’s been unfaithful to her husband; I’m running against Renee because she’s been unfaithful to her constituents.” (“I want to emphasize that my opponent did not beat his wife…”) Accused of wrecking every home in the Raleigh metropolitan area, Ellmers ended up losing by thirty points.

Yet now Cockburn hears that Ellmers is back, running for Congress in North Carolina’s Fourth District. And to Cockburn, at least, this seems just. Ellmers is a nurse who paid her way through college and worked throughout the Covid pandemic. Unlike her alleged lover, she’s capable of stringing a coherent sentence together. And though Cockburn relishes a good sex scandal, he notes begrudgingly that there is no evidence that anything untoward took place between her and McCarthy.

Yet that doesn’t mean McCarthy wants Ellmers back in his caucus. Politico reports that the minority leader recently met with GOP congressional candidate Bo Hines, who is running in North Carolina’s Seventh District but rumored to be contemplating a switch to the Fourth where Ellmers has mounted her bid.

Pure coincidence? Or an effort by McCarthy to move Hines across the chessboard and keep the indiscretions of the past in the past? Either way, Cockburn plans to watch this imbroglio carefully. What’s the point of having politicians if they don’t misbehave for our entertainment?