When it comes to Washington scandal journalism, sex trumps money. Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the bosom buddy of Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes who mysteriously vaulted from an obscure desk job at the CIA to the #3 slot when Porter Goss took over, has admitted attending Wilkes's poker parties at the Watergate, but denies knowing anything about the prostitutes Wilkes apparently provided for Cunningham and perhaps some of his Congressional colleagues. The unspoken convention seems to be that poker is OK, but hookers are bad.
Well, yes and no.
I'm a poker player myself, and have been in some moderately high-stakes games, occasionally with some moderately high-profile people. You can learn a lot about yourself at the poker table, not all of it fun to learn but all of it worth learning. It can also be a pleasant way to spend an evening and get to know some people you wouldn't otherwise pal around with.
But when a contractor organizes a poker game with a contract officer and some Congressmen, the red flags go up. Was the contract officer a steady winner? Were the Congressmen?
After all, a poker game can be as good a cover for bribery as — just for example — cattle futures trading. Better, because there's no paper trail.