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... In NBC's "West Wing" a White House speechwriter ... spends the night with a woman he meets at a restaurant & then realizes ... that she is a call girl ... She spunkily defends herself: "In my life, I have never committed a federal crime, which is more than I can say for some people in your line of work. I don't need saving. I like what I do & it is putting me through law school."

Prostitution was more than a metaphor for politics in 1996, when Dick Morris, ... who poured so much money into early TV ads that ... Clinton had to sell the Lincoln Bedroom, got caught with a call girl.

The fashion this fall of selling favors is hot on TV. And it is reaching new heights in Washington with astonishing cascades of money into politics.

Once members of Congress were respected gentlemen of the Club. Now they are more like ladies of ill repute, with ... McConnell serving as the ... madam of their capital Hill bawdy house.

In a searing tableau, Senate Republicans turned on one of their own ... stoning ... McCain ... His offense? Daring to suggest that the obscene amounts of money pouring into his colleagues coffers are corrupting.

...McConnell demanded on the Senate floor that McCain cite specific examples of how soft money has warped the Senate. "How can there be corruption if no one is corrupt?" the Kentucky senator asked ... challenging McCain to name names of colleagues who had traded legislative favors for money. ...

By trying to force ... McCain to whittle down the problem to individual quid pro quos, ... Mitch hoped to obscure the fact that the whole joint is for sale. It is hard to think of a member of Congress of either party - in this era of soft money, easy money, Chinese money, Hollywood money, Internet money, telecommunications money & trial lawyer's money - who has not rewarded a contributor by giving increased access or paying more attention to legislation.

"I don't know whether $5,000 is ... or $1 million at a certain point any money becomes corruptible," mused McCain ...

To know that lawmakers' love is for sale, just look at how Big Tobacco poured money into the Republican Party & won a ... reprieve from tighter regulations or how the NRA's contributions have bought it weaker gun laws or how Big Oil greased the skids for a break on royalty payments.

"You're gridlocked by special interests who control us with their big money," Sen. McCain said.

In other words, if we've established what the game is, are we just haggling over the price?

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