Washington is all ablaze with gossip today about the potential impact of the "DC Madam," whose high-end escort service evidently kept many well-known Washingtonians entertained. Alleged madam Deborah Palfrey turned over her phone records to ABC News, which plans to air a special report on the revelations later this week.
One high-level Bush administration figure has already resigned and many are waiting for more shoes (and names) to drop this week as ABC News continues its investigation.
But one thing that's missing in all the coverage is just how common these set-ups are in Washington, which like any major city has a trove of escort services and less-than-legitimate massage parlors. In a Fall 2005 article, the Washingtonian's Chris Vogel investigated the "X-rated Washington" and found that more than 130 escort services openly advertise in the Yellow Pages and that at least eight massage parlors exist within 10 blocks of the White House.
Randall Tobias, the former State Department official who resigned on Friday, is just the latest Washington figure to be embarrassed by run-ins with an escort service. In 2002, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel ended up going to the police when he found himself being blackmailed after having an escort come to his house.
Could Palfrey's service just be the tip of the iceberg?