Damn you, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. I gave you the benefit of the doubt.

When rumors of an affair with your boss — Gov. Robert Bentley — started surfacing months ago — with credible journalists who knew they didn’t have enough to go on the record dancing around the subject to absolute proclamations from insane bloggers — I still thought, is this just another unfortunate smear campaign of a powerful woman who has done well for herself?

Sure, it seemed a little odd that Gov. Bentley’s wife would end their marriage and walk away from the life they built together after 50 years, with neither of them really providing an explanation. But still, there could be other reasons besides infidelity. There were also rumors flying around at the time that Mrs. Bentley didn’t like some of the ways he was handling things as governor; she felt his actions reflected poorly on their faith, “they” said.

And people who knew the Masons were supposedly claiming it was all bogus. They were a happily married couple with lovely children. It was just attempts by the governor’s opponents to discredit him and his trusted adviser, “they” said. So you really didn’t know what to believe. But it certainly seemed plausible Mason was just an easy target for people with their own agendas. And if that were true, what a terrible thing to do to this woman and her family.
Terrible indeed. But it happens all of the time.

It’s hard for me to name any woman who holds a position of some power in this city, county or state that I haven’t had at least one jerk, who usually has no relationship with said person, say to me or other Lagniappe staffers, “Well, you know the only reason she got that job is because she was sleeping with her boss/main campaign donor/mentor/etc.”

When I was a younger woman, I would hear rumors of that sort about other women and I don’t know if I would always believe it as the gospel, especially if I didn’t really know the person, but I would casually file it away in my brain under “she may have slept with him.”

I feel certain there are many women with such files in my brain who don’t deserve them. And I am quite certain there are women walking around with files in their brains on me that I don’t deserve. Because believe me, any time someone doesn’t like the way we are covering something or someone it’s either because Rob is a rabid Republican, I am sleeping with someone, we are owned by a secret religious organization or we have some sort of evil (and apparently rich) puppet master orchestrating things behind the scenes. Sometimes all of the above. But I suppose it comes with the territory.

Many women have the same problem, just different territories.

So as I got older and a smidge wiser, I stopped filing away these rumors about my fellow ladies because more often than not, it’s just gossip from someone who has absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

And I figured it was quite possible that was what had happened to Mrs. Mason.

But then the tapes were released and it became abundantly clear that was not the case. There is absolutely no reasonable human being on this planet who has listened to them who believes they weren’t engaging in a physical and highly emotional (like teenage emotional) relationship.

It is bad enough we now know our governor stood in front of us in what may go down in Alabama history as the most awkward news conference of all time and flat-out lied to us … or at the very least lied to us, Bill Clinton style. “It depends on what the meaning of is is …”

And if he does somehow manage to stay in office we will never be able to look at him without thinking of him in his boxers or grabbing this lady’s boobs or kissing her ear. And I think I speak for the state as a whole, when I say “EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!”

Look, none of us is perfect. We all have our skeletons in our closets and have made mistakes. And we have certainly said things to our significant others that if were taped and made public we would be absolutely mortified over. (Though I really have to hope our collective “sexy talking” skills as Alabamians are better than our governor’s.)

Gov. Bentley and Mrs. Mason played with fire and got burned. But they had to have known the risk of being eviscerated like this was a real possibility given his position (and that’s not a double entendre), where you don’t get the expectation of privacy that just a regular old dermatologist and marketing specialist from Tuscaloosa would have had. Sure, they would have been the talk of the neighborhood or church, but probably not had a hundred different Simpsons memes being circulated about them and national media organizations talking about their private parts.

And that is what is truly troubling here, far more than just a little boobie holding. They had to have known that, if caught, what happened last week would play out much like it did — a horribly embarrassing episode, devastating to both of their families — but yet they still engaged in it.

And it is also very clear by reading these transcripts this woman has immense power over this man. I’ve never heard a man apologize so many times for not texting while he was at the beach with his wife and children. (Geez, Becky, he thought you were at the play!! Back off. Y’all had a lot of “good contact” that day.)

She has this power over a man who is the leader of our state, and is not just the woman he has “loved forever” but his closest political adviser. And she is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but we really don’t know by whom. And that’s just totally unacceptable and highly unethical.

Even if he is able to stay in office, there is no way their relationship can continue to exist as it does. How this payment arrangement could possibly be legally acceptable is beyond comprehension, except that it takes place in Alabama. I hope, unlike many times in the past, the folks up on Goat Hill will actually do something to rectify this situation, at the very least.

But truly one of the most disappointing moments of this whole sad, tabloid-like situation was the statement released by Mrs. Mason after Spencer Collier’s allegations first made headlines, where she claimed he was only doing this because she was a woman and it was gender bias.

Newsflash: Mrs. Mason, you only play the gender card if you are innocent and being targeted because of your gender. I am quite certain if the governor had been holding some dude adviser’s man boobs, the beans would have also been spilled, probably even faster. But more importantly, you were in fact having an inappropriate relationship with our governor, AKA your boo.  

So now, every woman like me who gave you the benefit of the doubt at first will probably not be so quick to do the same for the next woman who faces something similar. And unlike you, that woman may actually be innocent and a real victim of gender bias.
And for that, damn you, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.