Beware of live microphones

BEWARE OF LIVE MICROPHONES…. California state Rep. Michael Duvall, a Republican representing Orange County, is ostensibly a pretty conservative guy. Duvall, who’s married with two kids, emphasizes his commitment to “family values”; he’s a staunch opponent of gay rights; and he’s proud of his 100% rating from the state’s leading religious right group.

It’s what makes his sex scandal all the more interesting.

While waiting for the start of a legislative hearing in July, the 54-year-old married father of two began describing, for the benefit of a colleague seated next to him, his ongoing affairs with two different women. In very graphic detail. […]

Duvall’s sophomoric braggadocio, of course, was picked up by the microphone in front of him, and wound up on a tape for the legislature’s in-house TV station. From there it was sent to a local news station, KCAL, which ran this full report last night.

I’m not entirely comfortable publishing some of the more salacious details, but to make a long story short, Duvall spoke explicitly and in depth about his sexual escapades with two women, neither of whom were his wife, and one of whom is a lobbyist for an energy company. He did so in front of a microphone he thought was off. It wasn’t.

The impressive thing was watching how quickly the story escalated. It went from revelation to resignation with surprising efficiency.

The state legislature quickly (ahem) stripped Duvall of his committee vice-chairmanship this morning, and soon after, an ethics probe was launched. The state lawmaker issued a statement expressing his regret for the incident, and noted his comments were made “in what I believed to be a private conversation.” You don’t say.

About a half-hour ago, Duvall gave up and resigned his office. Apparently, he couldn’t find any friends willing to stick up for him.

As for the bigger picture, the extraordinarily long list of “family values” conservative Republicans who preach one thing and do the opposite has yet another member. It’s almost as if this crowd is filled with philandering hypocrites.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.