Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo, from ThinkProgress’s good coverage of this yesterday.

Along with most Washington “policy analyst” types I know, I turn down interview requests from Russia Today (RT), the Putin government news outlet, which has a bureau here. They’ve long since stopped calling.

The response is easy: “I’m sorry, I don’t give interviews with state-run media of countries that don’t allow a free press.” (Try it, it’s a good time-saver.)

This isn’t a lofty ethical standard. It just seems like common sense, whether you’re a top thought leader or just a lowly think-tank drone like me.

That’s why it’s still so shocking to me that a former U.S. general—one who recently headed the Defense Intelligence Agency—would say “yes” to RT.

And that he would say “yes” in the biggest possible way, sitting next to Putin himself at an RT event in Russia.

And that—as we learned yesterday—he would get a $45,386 payout for doing so.

And that this former general would actually go on to be the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.

For only 3 1/2 weeks, thankfully. But still, how could that have happened?