In the newsstand edition of TIME this week, a few thoughts on how the Foley scandal has turned one of the GOP’s greatest pop cultural assets–TV shows that terrify people about their kids’ security–into a liability for the traditional law-and-order party.
The one point I didn’t have room to discuss in the essay is what an inadvertently funny show "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" is. Last Friday’s edition–the capstone to a multi-part bust of the Internet pervs of Petaluma, California–was full of bizzarely slapstick moments. Besides the usual tongue-tied evasions of the busted Humbert Humberts caught in the child-sex sting (I was just bringing sandwiches! I was going to talk her out of having sex with grown men!), there was the 40-something doctor making a mess on hidden camera as the frozen lemonade he poured out of a blender came out in one big glop, and the preview of a coming bust, in which Dateline’s cameras catch a man who was nailed in an earlier "Predator" sting. Whoop!
It’s the casual, quotidian clumsiness and ineptitude of these guys that makes them so despicable yet pitiable–Hannah Arendt’s banality of evil turned into a blooper reel. The "Predator" sting series goes on vacation starting this week, but fear not, it’ll be back: it’s a big country and a big Internet, with a seemingly endless supply of clueless perverts and an endless appetite for sanctimonious voyeurism.