It’s hard to wrap our brains around exactly what is the scandal involving the GOP’s trip to Israel last year. Is the public most upset about the dinner where people may have had too much to drink, followed by a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee (where Jesus is said to have walked on water), the fact that some people “partially disrobed” while Rep. Yoder (R) swam completely nude?
Or is the nude and semi-nude swim in a lake merely drawing attention to the ridiculous spending and lifestyles of our legislature, even if it was a privately-funded trip?
The FBI looked into whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but the interviews do not appear to have resulted in any formal allegations of wrongdoing.
But Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who was the senior most GOP lawmaker in Israel on the trip, was so upset about the antics that he rebuked the 30 lawmakers the morning after the Aug. 18, 2011, incident, saying they were distracting from the mission of the trip.
The FBI is reported to have been specifically inquiring in order to be sure there wasn’t any impropriety that evening.
Politico pieced together the timeline of events from that trip, specifically with an eye on the night of the skinny-dipping, but what has come out of this report seems to draw more attention to the lavish lifestyle of these legislators and their families:
The American Israel Educational Foundation, a group related to AIPAC, the prominent pro-Israel advocacy group, sponsored the trip, which ran from Aug. 13 to Aug. 21, 2011. The trip cost AIEF upwards of $10,000 per person, according to records filed with the House Ethics Committee. More than 60 people took part in this AIEF trip.
These trips to the Holy Land are a rite of passage for members of Congress, as they visit the most sacred sites in the Jewish and Christian faiths – while their Israeli government hosts drive home the huge importance of U.S. support of Israel. That’s partially why, when the trip devolved into drinking and merrymaking, Cantor was livid.
So what’s the big deal here? Is it the drinking, the skinny dipping, the lavish lifestyle or the fact that it was paid for with money from The American Israel Educational Foundation?
What do you make of the skinny-dipping?
For a beat on what Twitter has to say on the subject, we defer to actor and comedian John Fugelsang: