South Carolina Governor Finally Found

June 24, 2009

Caught in a Lie - South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford Reappears After Visiting His Lover in Buenos Aires, ArgentinaSouth Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s six-day disappearing act — which included abandoning his four children on Father’s Day and which was satirized on the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert shows — came to an abrupt end today when Columbia, SC newspaper reporter Gina Smith located the missing governor at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The self-proclaimed “man of faith” was returning from a visit to his lover, Maria, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Appalachian Trail Near Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkIn a maudlin press conference this afternoon, the 49-year-old governor finally admitted that he’d been unfaithful to his wife, Jenny. In a teary-eyed display, Sanford, who until today chaired the Republican Governors Association, said he’d betrayed his family, his staff, and the citizens of South Carolina. While he had led his staff to believe that his excellent adventure consisted of hiking the Appalachian Trail, there was a problem with that story. Aside from the fact that he wasn’t there, Sunday was National Nude Hiking Day, which might have been even more difficult for the self-proclaimed “family values” politician to explain.

CattleAt the airport, he told reporter Smith that he’d been alone for the entire Argentinian version of the excellent adventure, driving along the Argentinian coastline. But there was a problem with that version of the adventure as well: The only coastal road in Buenos Aires is the Avenida Costanera, and it extends less than two miles. If one tries to drive south to coastal resorts, the trip requires an almost four-hour drive on an inland highway, past endless cattle ranches. Coastal travel to the north can be accomplished only by boat. Oops.

border=”0″ alt=”Jenny Sanford, First Lady of South Carolina” title=”Jenny Sanford, First Lady of South Carolina” style=”padding: 5px 5px 5px 5px;” Alerted yesterday by his staff that his absence had attracted national attention, Governor Sanford expressed surprise. At the airport, he said: “I don’t know how this thing got blown out of proportion.” Meanwhile, The State began publishing a series of email exchanges between Sanford and his lover. In a 10 July 2008 email to Maria written at 12:24 a.m., and obtained by The State, Sanford wrote> in part: “You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curve of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of the night’s light — but hey, that would be going into sexual details…” Well, yes, it would.

Sanford seemed confused as to whether he and his wife were separated, saying: “I don’t know how you want to define that. I’m here and she’s there. I guess, in a formal sense, we are not.” Huh? His wife shed more light on the situation in a written statement which said that a “trial separation was agreed to with the goal of ultimately strengthening our marriage. . . When I found out about my husband’s infidelity, I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage. . We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago.”

The Governor also likely faces impeachment. Hasta la vista, baby.

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Photo credit: Gina Smith / The State and The South Carolina Governor’s Office

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