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But He Didn't Inhale 

Mike Erickson, a Republican running for Congress in Oregon's 5th District over by Portland, is trying to defend himself against charges that a "humanitarian" trip

Mike Erickson, a Republican running for Congress in Oregon's 5th District over by Portland, is trying to defend himself against charges that a "humanitarian" trip he took to Cuba in 2004 was mostly a partying, sightseeing, cigar-smoking junket.

An expose in The Oregonian Sunday reported that the six-day trip, which Erickson claimed he made to deliver medical supplies and see first-hand the horrors of life under Communist rule, was mostly devoted to diversions including nightclubbing, dove shooting, cockfighting and something called "Comandante Fidel Castro's Annual Gala Cigar Dinner and Auction."

As the eminent Cuban Ricky Ricardo would have said to Lucy, Erickson had a lot of 'splaining to do. He called a press conference Monday to try to 'splain things, but he seems to have fallen a bit short.

Oregonian blogger Jeff Mapes reported the following exchange with a reporter:

The Oregonian: "If two-thirds of the trip, which was most of the trip, was sightseeing and other things in Cuba, which is frowned upon by the Bush Administration because of our embargo against Cuba and Castro, you spent American dollars there. Was that a smart move?"

Erickson: "Paying for food and items like that, there was no problem with that."

The Oregonian: "But you did go to the Tropicana nightclub."

Erickson: "But that was a restaurant."

The Oregonian: "And you smoked cigars, Cuban cigars?"

Erickson: "I don't smoke cigars."

The Oregonian: "You did not smoke Cuban cigars on this trip?"

Erickson: "I've never smoked a whole cigar in my entire life. I've puffed on a couple of cigars and I choke every time."

Hey Mike, somebody shoulda told you you're not supposed to inhale those things.

(The Eye normally doesn't pay attention to political races on the other side of the mountains, but this was too good to pass up.)

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