Steve Southerland, a tea partier in a tough battle for his Florida congressional seat with the daughter of a Democratic ex-senator, caught criticism last week for hosting a closed-doors men-only fundraiser. But he told reporters today that he's no misogynist, because he knows how ladies do love negligees.

Southerland, pictured above holding a possum, got his proverbial man-parts stuck in a bind two Tuesdays ago, when word leaked that he'd organized an "Irish Whiskey & Cigar Themed 5 Course Chef Event" open only to moneyed conservative penis-possessors, where they could discuss how to defeat Democratic challenger Gwen Graham and "prevent the gavel returning to Nancy Pelosi."

"Tell the Misses [sic] not to wait up," he told the "small group of concerned men," adding: "Good men sitting around discussing & solving political & social problems over fine food & drink date [sic] back to the 12th Century with King Arthur's Round Table":

(Legends of Arthur's apocryphal existence actually date to the 5th century, but hey, men were pretty decisive deciders of everything in the 1100s, too.)

Graham's campaign, eager to make gender politics an issue in the district, has hammered Southerland over the fundraiser ever since. And this morning, he did the worst thing imaginable: He responded.

Via the Tampa Bay Times:

Asked to respond to the Democrats' criticism that he's anti-women, Southerland laughed and said: "I live with five women. That's all I'm saying. I live with five women. Listen: Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?"

By this afternoon, he was apologizing for the lingerie remark, kinda sorta. "I regret that my comments are being misused for political gain," Southerland told The Hill. "I was trying to make the point that some organizations host men-only events and some host women-only events.

It's unclear why, in searching his mind for an example of a women-only event comparable to his men-only gathering, Southerland spurned the arguably more common baby showers, bridal showers, and just, you know, meetings for coffee or whatever, in order to reference a group of women congregating to purchase sexy undergarments.

Does it make him sexist? Not at all. But it does raise questions about what Southerland's secretive club of hommes did with their Apalachicola oysters, as well as whether his wife and daughters really have that many lingerie parties, or just tell him that so they can get some precious time away from him.

[Photo credit: AP Images]