Entering the Larry Craig Pantheon

March 3, 2010 8:36 p.m.

It’s no good for a family values Republican to get picked up on a DUI. But substantially worse to get picked up for a DUI after leaving a gay nightclub with an unidentified man in a state vehicle.

That’s the sorry state that befell California state Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) early Wednesday.

[[SLIDESHOW: Greatest GOP Sex Scandals]]

In better days Ashburn, a fierce opponent of gay rights, was fighting marriage equality and organizing anti-gay marriage rallies as part of his “Traditional Family Values” campaign.

But he hit a bump in the road — figuratively, not literally — Wednesday at around 2 AM when CHP officers observed him weaving and driving erratically in downtown Sacramento. After a field sobriety test, officers determined that Ashburn, who reeked of alcohol and had bloodshot, watery eyes, was under the influence of alcohol and placed him under arrest. He was released from jail just before 4 AM.

Initial reports only noted the DUI arrest and Ashburn issued a contrite apology on Wednesday. But late this evening, the CBS affiliate in Sacramento reported that “sources” confirmed that Ashburn had left Faces, a gay nightclub in downtown Sacramento, just prior to his arrest.

The state issued black Chevrolet Tahoe Ashburn was driving has been impounded at the state Capitol.

Late Update: You can follow all of our coverage of the Ashburn case here.

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