As if having to bear the shame of the Eric Massa scandal wasn’t enough, western New Yorkers now have to endure the scrutiny brought by Craigslist pick-up con man Chris Lee.

As if having to bear the shame of the Eric Massa scandal wasn’t enough, western New Yorkers now have to endure the scrutiny brought by Craigslist pick-up con man Chris Lee.


Lee, the ultraconservative businessman from the Buffalo area who gained a seat in Congress two years ago, resigned abruptly Wednesday afternoon after it was revealed that he was hitting on a Maryland woman through the online service.


Apparently Lee was trying to spice up his sex life by finding a girlfriend, and thought sending a cell phone photo of himself shirtless would help. He also passed himself off as younger, and, apparently, unmarried.


Sadly enough for Lee, he learned that the internet is not exactly a private marketplace. His exchanges with the woman ended up on gossip Website Gawker. Now Lee is having uncomfortable, Spitzer family-type moments at home. His district will be looking for a replacement.


A normal person would think that, after all the embarrassment wrought by Tickle Me Eric, every other congressman — and certainly one from a neighboring district —?would play it straight. Lee appeared to be that kind of guy, a rather boring, money-first type of fellow who had grown bored of running the family business and now wanted more because he had the graying-hair good looks to do it.


We can tolerate congressmen like Chris Lee so long as they behave themselves. They reliably blend into the background and do all sorts of important work as gauged by the self-promoting newsletters sent out by their offices. In return, we keep sending them back to Washington for another two years so long as they do not make major fools of themselves.


Massa really didn’t fit this mold, as he was a very squeaky wheel from the first moment he demanded election to Congress. He didn’t care if he didn’t fit in, or that most people thought him an obnoxious bore. He demanded accountability and he demanded change. He also demanded goofiness from his staffers that, with the distance of several months, seems more disgusting now than when the news first broke. Don’t forget he also initially tried to pass off his resignation on cancer, an excuse that ought to get anybody who uses it falsely into a very special level of Hell.


This newspaper tried to reach Massa on Thursday morning to get his thoughts on the Lee scandal. No surprise that none of his old phone numbers now work, but you have to try because you never know. ... The greatest quotes in the business are often found by taking shots in the dark.


So we can only imagine Eric’s reaction. He would likely talk for a long time, and in a very loud voice, and the gist of it would be that Lee was a piker, an amateur, unlike a real Navy guy. Massa would point out that his scandal was big enough for Saturday Night Live.


It wouldn’t take long before we would wish we’d never called.


Andy Thompson is managing editor of The Evening Tribune in Hornell, N.Y.