The fact that Foley resigned virtually within minutes of being told that ABC News had copies of his salacious e-mails and text messages indicates he at least felt shame for his actions. Can the same be said for Democrats?

Sadly, it doesn’t seem so. How else can you explain the following?

• In 1983, then-Democratic Rep. Gerry Studds of Massachusetts was caught in a similar situation. In his case, Studds had sex with a male teenage page — something Foley hasn’t been charged with.

Did Studds express contrition? Resign? Quite the contrary. He rejected Congress’ censure of him and continued to represent his district until his retirement in 1996.

• In 1989, Rep. Barney Frank, also of Massachusetts, admitted he’d lived with Steve Gobie, a male prostitute who ran a gay sex-for-hire ring out of Frank’s apartment. Frank, it was later discovered, used his position to fix 33 parking tickets for Gobie.

What happened to Frank? The House voted 408-18 to reprimand him — a slap on the wrist. Today he’s an honored Democratic member of Congress, much in demand as a speaker and “conscience of the party.”

• In 2001, President Clinton, who had his own intern problem, commuted the prison sentence of Illinois Rep. Mel Reynolds, who had sex with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer and pressured her to lie about it. (Reynolds also was convicted of campaign spending violations.)

You get the idea. Democrats not only seem OK with the kind of behavior for which Foley is charged, but also they protect and excuse it. Only when it’s a Republican do they proclaim themselves shocked — shocked! — when it comes to light.

We can not be surprised at Democrat hypocrisy. When Sandy Berger stole and destroyed highly classified documents by concealing them in his pants, Democrats sloughed it off with a chuckle. When Novak exposed the fact that allegedly undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame had been involved in sending her lying husband to Niger to check on Iraqi intentions to buy yellow-cake, the Democrats and their MSM hand-maidens erupted in righteous fury, pretty much like they are doing now on Foley.

As in the Plame blame game, the water is being muddied. The suggestive emails that Republican leaders saw early on are being conflated with the more explicit instant messages that have just come to light. The MSM is doing nothing to clarify the situation. Why should they? This could be Watergate redux, and the press is looking for the cover-up behind the crime. Hence the hunt for Hastert’s hide.

Meanwhile, terrorists are still slaughtering civilians and US troops in Iraq, the Taliban have found a sanctuary in Pakistan, the North Koreans are threatening to test their latest export product, a nuclear weapon, and the Mad Mullahs are getting ever close to being able to wipe Israel off the face of the map with a nuke or two. Do the Democrats have any answer to these problems? Of course not. That’s why they are playing the October surprise card to the hilt. What else would a bunch of sore losers do?