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Publicly Funded Sex

December 2, 2005

Do you ever wonder what all of those tax dollars you send to Washington D.C. pay for? In a fit of wishful thinking, your mind's eye conjures up images of hard-working people giving their all each and every day serving taxpayers. After all there must be so much work to do, these dedicated public servants must be eating brown bag lunches at their desks and spending many a night burning the midnight oil. Not hardly.

Washington is full of thousands of people doing little of nothing: All on the taxpayers' dime. What's worse, "almost everyone in Washington was an insecure nerd," explains Jessica Cutler in her novel The Washingtonienne. "This is especially true of anyone who worked in politics. Only a nerd would be attracted to legislative power, of all things."

Cutler's 15 minutes of fame reached a boil in May of last year, when her blog posts under the name Washingtonienne hit the gossip pages. Ms. Cutler at the time worked as a Staff Assistant ("staff ass" as they are called on the Hill) for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). She blogged of her ongoing sexploits with six different partners. One was a Bush-appointed Chief of Staff of a government agency. Another was Robert Steinbuch, a lawyer who also worked in DeWine's office. And, Sen. Joseph Lieberman staffer Matt Doyle was also a partner.

Cutler was ultimately fired for "unacceptable use of Senate computers," when her blog posts became news. But, a girl has to make a buck, so Cutler posed for Playboy, and pumped out her roman a clef.

Constituents may think there is a lot of deep thinking going on in the nation's capital, but instead it's "a town full of young single people and bored married people, all desperate to connect with, oh anyone," according to Cutler.

And for the author, Washington was easy pickings. After competing with the size zero model types in New York, Washington was full of girls with "puffy-looking bodies," drinking beer, plus the "boys here were so friendly, it was almost sad …"

After her fiancé in New York kicked her out of his apartment for cheating on him, the book's heroine (Jacqueline) moves to Washington and moves in with her girlfriend who works on Capital Hill. From her first night in the city, it was one drunken night after another.

Jacqueline quickly lined up an intern position, but more importantly she quickly was picked up by the Chief of Staff Fred, her first night in Washington, consummating their relationship on a conference table with the full view of the Capital's splendor through the window.

Jacqueline's relationship with Fred continues throughout the book. They would meet for long lunch romps once a week with Fred paying Jacqueline $400 or more each time.

The man who arranged Jacqueline's first paying job was Phillip, a well-endowed, wealthy, 60 year-old lawyer. Phillip would eventually sign the lease and make the payment for Jacqueline's apartment in exchange for the occasional meeting.

Jacqueline's job was to open the Senator's mail and send back form letters in response with the senator's signature autopenned on it. "Our tax dollars at work. Seriously, I didn't know why we all didn't just shoot ourselves," Cutler writes. Jacqueline often comments that she doesn't know what anyone actually does on Capitol Hill and that nobody has to work hard.

With one guy giving her spending money and another paying her rent, Jacqueline spent every night partying and every day nursing a hangover on taxpayer time. It was virtually impossible to get fired. "My long lunches, constant tardiness, excessive personal calls, dress code violations, puking in the office bathroom, and erratic behavior in general made me more of a distraction than as asset to my office," Cutler writes.

Always on the make for guys, Jacqueline and her friends spot George Stephanopoulos and James Carville while out one night. "'How sad is that?' [Jacqueline's friend] Laura mused. 'Those are the biggest celebrities Washington has to offer, and they're not even attractive.'"

In between her various liaisons with Fred, Phillip, her drug dealer, the guy who first hired her, and numerous other pickups, Jacqueline falls in love (sort of) with a lawyer who works in her office, Marcus. Marcus doesn't drink or do drugs (turns out he is in AA), but is drawn to the dangerous Jacqueline. But, in the end he decides to walk away.

Cutler's book is laugh-out-loud funny, and more importantly serves as a metaphor for what the government is doing to taxpayers.


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