Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted of failing to report illegal gratuities, including an expensive massage lounger that had been in his home for seven years. He told a Washington, D.C. jury that the chair was on loan.
It is objectively implausible that someone who stood to benefit from Senator Stevens’ political largess would bestow $250,000.00 of "unwanted indulgences" that were not gifts. But people like the Senator often make similar errors of judgment (including, it might be argued, the error of testifying in their own defense). It seems that the more important they perceive themselves to be, the larger the self-deception. I call this the probability distortion of personal experience.
I have blogged about aberrant conduct in the past, including: Resistance to Change, September 15, 2008; Fear of Predators, September 6, 2008; and An Ethological Case for Adultery – Eliot Spitzer Breaks Bad, March 16, 2008.
Senator Stevens’ conduct was far from being an anomaly; former members of Congress Larry Craig, Mark Foley and Duke Cunningham offer other examples, and there are surely many more among people of lesser stature.