The world has moved on from Bill Clinton’s infamous line 26 years ago that, though he may have experimented with marijuana in his youth, he never inhaled.
Yesterday, international development secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart told Sky News that he made a “very stupid mistake” by smoking opium at a wedding in Iran 15 years ago.
Stewart’s confession and apology was a PR masterstroke on multiple levels. Admission of drug use makes him seem like a normal guy, even if opium is a few rungs up the ladder from weed.
The drug in question is exotic enough to stick in the mind, both playing into the image of a man who really belongs in a different century and distancing this episode firmly from the grimy reality of drug use in modern Britain.
The detail about the wedding in Iran is a casual reminder of Stewart’s unusual past and diplomatic CV that puts any rival hoping to challenge him on foreign policy to shame.
Why was he even in the Middle East, one might ask, sending us down the rabbit hole of an impressive career which includes running an Iraqi province at the age of 30.
Finally, lest we get too carried away with these Lawrence-of-Arabia vibes, admitting that he shouldn’t have done it reminds us that, despite his well-travelled past, Stewart is still a grown-up, who seems to have taken drugs out of a very British desire to appear polite and culturally sensitive. Genius.
Politicians often struggle with this kind of breezy attempt to reassure the public that they are actually human. Hitting the balance between robotically boring (Theresa May’s “naughty” story about running through a field of wheat) and outrage-inducing (Michael Heseltine’s reminiscence about strangling a dog) is a challenge.
And social media is not quick to forgive if you misstep – think of Jeremy Hunt getting his wife’s nationality wrong under pressure, or the photo of James Brokenshire’s four-oven kitchen that took over political Twitter.
In fact, there’s really only one leadership hopeful who has this authenticity act down to an art form, who can brush off any gaffe, walk through any scandal, and still appear the kind of guy you could be mates with: Boris Johnson.
His dominance as a frontrunner has been demonstrated again and again this week by the way in which other candidates keep trying to steal his turf or use his blunders to make themselves look better in comparison.
Matt Hancock, for example, has made a play to one of the most traditional Tory bases of all, saying that his party should be “backing business, not bashing business” and alluding to Boris’ infamous “f*ck business” comment.
Esther McVey, meanwhile, has gone after the right of the party (who love Boris) by wading into the row over children being taught about LGBT issues at school, saying that “parents know best”.
And Dominic Raab, itching to buff up his Brexit credentials, has promised that parliament won’t stop him going for no-deal.
Their efforts, however, have all been overshadowed by this week’s latest BoJo drama.
The news that the former foreign secretary must appear in court over an alleged lie (that the UK sent £350m a week to the EU and could send that to the NHS instead) he told during the referendum campaign must have come as music to his ears.
On the one hand, it allows Boris to play the martyr, ruthlessly persecuted for an exaggeration which, while misleading, is standard spin for politicians of all parties.
On the other, it reminds everyone that he was a leading figure in the campaign, and one of the individuals most responsible for the Brexit result. To a party quaking at the spectre of Nigel Farage in the wake of the European elections, this could not have come at a more opportune moment.
And so, with over a week to go before the first round even begins, Boris remains the clear favourite.
But here is where things get interesting. The structure of this leadership contest, in which MPs whittle down the candidates and put the top two to Tory members in a run-off, leaves space for one moderate finalist against one die-hard Brexiteer.
Boris has currently reserved the Brexit spot, and contenders like Raab, McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove are jostling to take it off him. They may yet do so.
Given the backstabbing and false starts we saw in the 2016 race, and the fierce competition among candidates to out-Brexit one another, it’s not inconceivable that one of them will conquer Boris.
On the soft-Brexit side, heavyweights like Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt have both got off to shaky starts. Despite their substantial political status, they are currently trailing – wait for it – Stewart, of all people, on the bookies’ leaderboard.
It is in fact Stewart, who has come out passionately against no-deal and decimated the case for trading on WTO terms in meticulous detail, who has the best odds right now of being the moderate finalist.
Could he beat Boris in a run-off? Highly unlikely.
But were the frontrunner to get knifed by a Brexiteer rival or stumble under the weight of public expectation, we could end up with a final that pits an expert strategist with novelty, quirk, and scruffy schoolboy good looks on his side against one of the tired, unengaging faces of a three-year Brexit battle that the public is utterly sick of.
And if that happens, my money’s on the opium smoker.