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Anthony Weiner & Twitter: It's a Small World After All

As a journalist, you have to be ready for news to break whenever and wherever you are.

I've reported on Osama bin Laden's death from home. Gone live on the phone from a Yankee Stadium stairwell when Sarah Palin announced her resignation as governor of Alaska (just as they cranked "Enter Sandman" for Mariano Rivera's trot in from the bullpen). I've broken stories from the stationary bike at the gym and poolside in the Dominican Republic.

It's interrupted dates, cookouts and once even hijacked a wedding I tried to attend out of state.

So there I was Saturday, standing in line at the Star Wars ride at Disneyland in California. And that's when Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-NY) all decided it was time for embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to go.

Imagine waiting in line for well over an hour to enjoy Disneyland's most-sought after experience and having your BlackBerry explode with messages from all three lawmakers, urging Weiner to step down.

It sure didn't feel like The Force was with me.

I nearly choked on my lemonade as I read about Weiner and spied a t-shirt Disney was hawking just outside the Star Wars ride.

"Judge me by my size, do you?" read the inscription on the shirt, quoting Yoda.

Wasserman Schultz's email landed on my BlackBerry first, followed moments later by missives from Pelosi and Israel.

Perhaps it was only appropriate that this news would come down while I was at Disneyland. The spinning tea cup ride doesn't have as many turns as the Weiner story.

As soon as I finished Star Wars, I began pinging and calling various Congressional sources for reaction and other comments.

I reached a few people in between Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) weighed-in via email as soon as I exited the Haunted Mansion, also requesting that Weiner resign.

Weiner's spokeswoman Risa Heller came next, blasting out a statement indicating the Congressman would remain in office. However, Heller said Weiner was seeking professional help and would request a leave of absence from the House of Representatives.

The irony was not lost on me that I received this message while near Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

On the ride, the character Angus MacBadger tries to help Mr. Toad. But to no avail. An inscription on the wall as you enter the attraction says MacBadger "offers sage advice so often scorned."

Who would have thought that political heavyweights like Pelosi, Wasserman Schultz and Israel would find themselves in the same position as MacBadger after Mr. Toad rebuffed him?

"This is unacceptable," seethed a Democratic party official who asked not to be identified. "His constituents and colleagues need finality. And his district needs representation. The dye is cast. He needs to move on."

Another Democratic source emailed to say the Weiner episode had devolved into a "circus."

This email hit the BlackBerry while I passed Goofy's Playhouse.

So the House returns to session today. And even though Weiner plans to request a leave of absence, the Washington press corps will reprise a familiar ritual. Reporters will stake out Weiner's office in the Rayburn House Office Building across the street from the Capitol. They'll camp outside his Washington address. They'll watch for Weiner around the House floor when lawmakers are summoned to the chamber to vote. They'll dog leaders like Pelosi, Wasserman Schultz and Israel for additional comments.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will also appear on the radar of journalists. Hoyer didn't publish a statement like the rest of the leadership troika on Saturday demanding Weiner's resignation. But Hoyer did tell CBS that it would be "extraordinarily difficult that he can proceed to represent his constituents in an effective way given the circumstances this bizarre behavior has led to."

Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC) also declined to call for Weiner to step aside over the weekend. So reporters will aim to chat him up, too.

If Weiner doesn't resign, the attention will turn to a previously scheduled meeting of the House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday morning.

The session is supposed to cover commodities and speculation.

But there's bound to be lots of speculation from House Democrats about how Weiner's scandal is sidetracking the party from its agenda and ruining their chances to win back the House next year.

Dozens of House Democrats want Weiner's head on a platter. Many feel personally betrayed by the New York Democrat because he lied to them, too. And they can't wait to get past this.

You know it's bad when lawmakers want to trade in this story and talk about something much more pleasant.

Like raising the debt ceiling.

If Weiner doesn't resign, he's expected to ask the House for a leave. This is typically a perfunctory process. Lawmakers ask for leaves all the time. In fact, the House has granted 79 leaves of absence this year alone, mostly for benign reasons.

For instance on May 23, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) begged off for the entire week due to a death in his family.

On the same day, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) requested leave for just the day due to tornado damage in his district.

Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) asked for a day of leave for unspecified reasons. And Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) asked for a leave of absence due to travel delays.

The House used to fine members for missing time. Now, it's standard for lawmakers to ask for a leave without consequence. Leaves can range from a day to more extended periods. In recent years, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) requested a lengthy leave after he experienced a substance abuse relapse. Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) took off for several weeks as he underwent treatment for alcoholism.

Lawmakers typically make the request through the leadership of their respective party. At the end of the legislative day, a lawmaker who is present rattles through a series of "unanimous consent" requests, including those seeking a leave of absence.

"Unanimous consent" means the entire House must agree to it. In fact, after a unanimous consent request is made, the member presiding over the House usually replies "without objection, so ordered." In other words, if just one lawmaker objects, the request is denied.

It's been years since the House has turned down a request for a leave of absence. But it is a parliamentary possibility. If that happens, it could spark a debate and even a vote on whether or not to grant the leave request.

This poses an interesting question. Would a Republican member (remember, it just takes one) object, thus preventing Weiner from taking his leave? Republicans have thoroughly enjoyed a dose of schadenfreude as they watch Democrats contort over Weiner. And keeping Weiner in the House might help them score some additional political mileage. Secondly, there are plenty of Democrats who want Weiner out, too. Would a Democrat object to a leave request?

Regardless, lawmakers do have consciences. And whomever would object to a fellow member asking for a leave of absence to receive treatment would have a lot of explaining to do and draw substantial attention.

In any event, Weiner doesn't need to be present to ask for leave. The Congressman or his office may simply inform Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) of his request. If Weiner asks for leave starting today, the House probably won't consider the matter until 7 or 7:30 tonight, after a lengthy sequence of votes.

In 1979, one lawmaker asked the House to dock his pay for the three days when he was away. In 1971, another member requested a "leave of absence without pay" as he sought election to another office.

No one could answer whether Weiner would ask the House to withhold his pay during his proposed leave of absence.Back at Disneyland, I toured the park. I scoured the BlackBerry as I waited in line for Space Mountain. Made a few calls from Tomorrowland. Emailed a source from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

And then there was the touchstone of the Disney experience: a boat ride through the canals as children's voices sang "It's a Small World."

Which brought me back to how Weiner got himself into this mess in the first place: social media.

Weiner has shared so much on Twitter. Too much. As do many people. And by the same token, the technology has shrunk the world to just a double mouse click or send button.The song resonated in my head as I considered Weiner's predicament.

"There's so much that we share...that it's time we're aware...it's a small world after all..."

And no one understands that better now than Anthony Weiner.

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