In 2006, Foley, a Florida Republican, was revealed to have sent sexual instant messages to several congressional pages. The guy who leaked them, Zack Stanton, has an essay about it in Politico today. Stanton had seen Foley’s AOL chats in 2001, but forgot about them for years, until he saw a story about vaguely inappropriate emails Foley’d sent a page. Foley’s staff called it an “ugly smear campaign.” Stanton knew that wasn’t true. So he emailed ABC News’s tip line. Soon the transcripts were online for all to see.
It was shocking that a politician would harass a teenager the way Foley did. But Foley’s desperation, lewdness, and typos made the transcripts so deeply funny. A now-defunct blog called The Poor Man Institute turned them into hilarious satire, claiming that Foley’s messages—as Maf54—were real, but completely innocent. The other side of the chat had been rewritten to make him look bad: “How do I know? Because Foley was really IM’ing me.” The “real” (fake) conversation was, I thought at the time, the funniest thing in the world. You can read it via the Wayback Machine, but here are some snippets: