Idaho Sen. Larry Craig asked his constituents for forgiveness on Tuesday, and denied he was gay despite pleading guilty to soliciting sex in a men’s bathroom in June. Craig – a married, conservative Republican who has voted against gay marriage – said he “overreacted” and decided not to fight the charges because he was already exhausted by an Idaho Statesman investigation into rumors about his sexuality.

Leaders of Craig’s own party are calling for an ethics investigation into the case – an undercover policeman said Craig propositioned him in a restroom stall at the Minneapolis airport. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the scandal “reminds us of the fact that people who are elected to public office continue to disappoint.”

First Bill Clinton’s shenanigans, said Mark Hemingway in National Review Online, then Mark Foley’s naughty instant messages, and now this. “When it comes to sex scandals, we’ve already gone from a slippery slope to a toboggan ride to hell.”

Craig’s exploits wouldn’t be so bad, said Michelle Cottle on The New Republic’s The Plank blog, if he hadn’t made a political career out of “championing piety.” It’s the same kind of “tiresome hypocrisy” that other Republican congressmen have exhibited while cheating on their wives. Craig just did it to hide “a dirty little secret he clearly hates himself for.”

The poor man compounded his troubles by trying to deflect the blame, said the Idaho Statesman in an editorial. This newspaper didn’t create the “cloud” now hanging over Craig – he did it himself. “When politicians try to turn social and sexual issues into fair political game, they invite scrutiny of their behavior.”

Maybe now Republicans will realize it’s time for government to get out of people’s bedrooms, and bathrooms, said Nick Gillespie in the Los Angeles Times (free registration).

Americans can always count on Washington, said The Chicago Tribune in an editorial. The summer sex scandal is reliable entertainment. “These details are positively revolting. Tell us some more.”