COLUMBIA, S.C. – The bizarre saga of missing South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has taken a new twist. After he went missing over the weekend and into Tuesday, his staff had told media outlets he was hiking the Appalachian Trail as a way to decompress following a series of stressful legislative days.
It turns out Sanford wasn't hiking any American trail -- he was in Argentina.
According to South Carolina's The State newspaper and the Associated Press, Sanford arrived Wednesday morning at Atlanta's international airport on a flight from Buenos Aires. If accurate, the legislators and citizens of South Carolina will want serious answers.
"Lies. Lies. Lies. That's all we get from his staff. That's all we get from his people. That's all we get from him," said state Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia. "Why all the big cover-up?"
Sanford was last seen on Thursday, June 18. On Monday of this week, a state legislator raised questions about his whereabouts. From there, it got weird. The governor's wife, Jenny Sanford, told The Associated Press she had not seen her own husband since Thursday -- and didn't know where he was. However, she said she wasn't all that concerned.
Late Monday, Sanford's staff began telling everyone the governor was simply taking some time off to hike the Appalachian Trail. That turned out to be false. The governor -- we think -- was in a different continent.
According to The State, "Sanford said he was alone on the trip to Argentina" and that "he declined to give any additional details about what he did other than to say he drove along the coastline."
Meanwhile, the Associated Press is raising doubts about that story: "Trying to make such a drive could frustrate a weekend visitor to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the Avenida Costanera is the only coastal road, and it's less than two miles long. Reaching coastal resorts to the south requires a drive of nearly four hours on an inland highway with views of endless cattle ranches. To the north is a river delta of islands reached only by boat."
Argentina's immigration agency won't comment on whether Sanford entered the country.
One of the bigger concerns over Sanford's strange behavior is that he never left anyone officially in charge of state business during his absence.
It seems this question must be asked: Is Mark Sanford fit to be South Carolina's governor?