Updated: Fighting back tears, Mark Sanford explained that his mysterious disappearance was really a visit to "a dear dear friend in Argentina," a mistress he met eight years ago and fell in love with a year ago over e-mail.

After a looooong wind-up in which he extolled the virtues of "my lovely Appalachian Trail" and briefed the press about his various "adventure trips" just to show that the whole hiking cover story was plausible, he got to the meat of the matter: "It's gonna hurt, and we'll let the chips fall where they may.... The bottom line is this: I've been unfaithful to my wife."

The other woman lives in Argentina, Sanford said. They met "innocently" eight years ago, when she was separated from her husband. He urged her, ironically enough, not to get divorced. After keeping in touch via e-mail, they started an affair about a year ago, and saw each other on three occasions in that time.

Sanford's wife Jenny has known for five months. Apparently, the reason for Sanford's trip was to break the relationship off. "I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina," he said.

His speech was a full-on soul-baring, and sure seemed like an attempt to rescue his political career through total candor. It was almost touching, except for the part where he mentioned his "fiduciary relationship I had with the people of South Carolina" in order to explain...something. And this bit of Christian wisdom: "God's law is indeed there to protect you from yourself. The biggest self of self is indeed self."

He also acknowledged that "God's law isn't a rigid list of do's and don'ts just for the sake of" controlling behavior. It's funny how right-wing Christians only tend to recognize that after they've been caught violating those laws.

Also, he's resigning as chairman of Republican Governors Association.

UPDATE: Interestingly, Sanford is a Democrat in the crazy wacky world of Fox News:

Sanford Confesses to Argentinian Affair



Other noted Democrats featured on Fox News have included Mark Foley, the Republican congressman who liked to IM with hot little page-boys:

Sanford Confesses to Argentinian Affair