Why a Possible Drag Queen Past Won’t Loosen the GOP Grip of George Santos

This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox. There comes a point in every relationship

where enough is enough. For the current Republican Party, you might think the prospect that one of their own was a former drag queen who played a role in the death of a dog would

be that moment. And yet, it would seem there is no end in sight for Republican leaders and their ongoing—and highly tortured—defense of Rep. George Santos, an apparently fabulist

freshman whose C.V. reads more fictitious by the day. After all, Santos may be a problem child, but he’s a useful vote to keep the GOP in power. The latest pestering came

via reporting that Santos, who campaigned as a hard-right conservative, performed in drag during his time in Brazil in the late aughts. Santos, who identifies as a gay man and

supported Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law, has disputed the report—one of the few instances of specific denial in a growing litany of contradictions and fabrications that have come to

light since he won an upset race on Long Island in November. GOP leaders apparently knew that his résumé was as fishy as the seafood counter in Bayville, but nonetheless allowed

his candidacy to move ahead—for a second time—as they chased power. And now, with just a five-vote House majority and essentially zero defections to spare, most Republicans

are wrapping themselves in Santos’ contradictions, tall tales, and personas—including Kitara Ravache, the apparent stage name he used as he chased the title of Miss Gay Rio.

Hypocrisy, it seems, only matters if it comes with cost, and is merely an annoyance if the offending party keeps its spoils, no matter how spoiled.