It's no secret that members of Congress broker deals on the treadmill or in the weight room of the House and Senate gyms. But former congressman Eric Massa's accusation that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once berated him in the gym's shower over his vote against President Obama's budget left Washington watchers wondering how much business politicians conduct while naked.
The answer, lawmakers revealed Tuesday, is not much.
The private gyms are sanctuaries where lawmakers can huff, puff and disrobe knowing that only fellow members will see them.
If Massa's shower tableau did take place -- a scenario the White House denied -- several said it's far from the norm.
"This morning I talked with Lamar Alexander about a hold" on a nomination during his daily workout, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said. But Tester said, "I don't go in the shower. I don't accost people."
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said he often goes to the Senate gym to do a rubber-band exercise for his arms -- the 66-year-old said he has bad rotator cuffs -- but that he most loves sitting in the sauna with his colleagues.
"It's always fun," he said.
Asked whether he has had shower encounters like the one Massa alleged, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) was interrupted by an aide -- "Senator, we definitely have a speaking engagement" -- and whisked away before he could respond.
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To quote Reason magazine (may be the first time I've said that): "The right may be backing off its brief romance with Eric Massa, but I've decided I like the man. Partly because he's offering just the right combination of conspiracy theories, gay sex, and left/right convergence to make the world feel like a Gore Vidal novel. And partly because he's inspiring reporters to produce stories like this one."