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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 24th, 2013
06:10 PM ET

Analysis: Why Washington, D.C., is a lot like high school

"I cannot stand to even look at you," was a quote peddled around Washington, D.C., this week. Supposedly one Republican House leader allegedly hurled the supposedly verbatim insult at the President of the United States in the midst of the heated debate over the debt ceiling at the White House.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin made waves by posting the comment on his Facebook page, and asking incredulously what the chances are of an honest conversation with someone who just said something so disrespectful.

Which would be a fair point if that comment had been made. But the White House now says that exchange never happened. The quote attributed to a lawmaker was not accurate. There was a miscommunication in the readout of that meeting between the White House and Senate Democrats.

Then who started this weird game of Washington telephone?

"This is high school," said CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Sources tell CNN that the deputy chief of staff told the story about this congressman, who he identified as Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. He told it to the Senate Democratic leaders, then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went into the Senate Democratic caucus and proceeded to tell Democrats the story, then Durbin posted it on his Facebook page, then the White House denied that it ever happened.

"It's kind of crazy, but it just shows you how these guys don't trust each other, and they don't like each other, and they don't talk to each other," said Borger.

Former Republican Congressman of Virginia Tom Davis, who knows Sessions, said it does not sound like something the Texas congressman would say. But even if it had happened, it is obligatory the White House would deny it.

"This is a town where you can get up and yell "You lie!" at the State of the Union, and raise $1 million online the next week. It's still a poisonous atmosphere," said Davis.

Speaking of high schools, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler wound up at a high school party at the beach in Delaware in June. Now, he is in a little trouble for not doing more to investigate alleged underage drinking.

He said he stopped by to talk to his teenage son, and then somebody snapped a photo of him surrounded by youngsters holding red plastic cups that was posted on Instagram. Gansler said it is not his job to break up a party of underage drinkers, though in the past he has done public service announcements on the dangers of teen drinking.

Gansler is in the middle of a gubernatorial primary.

"This is not helpful at all," said former Democratic Congressman of Texas Martin Frost.

"He'll be explaining this for months now. I don't wish him any ill. He's a good public servant. But this is a real problem," said Frost.

For more of our political panel, including a discussion on the recent heckling of Hillary Clinton, watch the video above.

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