The Sanford saga began with a disappearing act. The then South Carolina governor apparently left home in a black SUV on June 18, 2009, and stopped answering his cell phone and responding to text messages and e-mails. He was AWOL for the better part of a week. The explanations piled up: the rising GOP star was “writing something,” said his wife; he was recharging after losing a fight to refuse stimulus money, said his spokesman; he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, said his staff. When a reporter cornered Sanford at an airport in Atlanta on June 24, however, the governor revealed that he’d been in Buenos Aires. With South Carolina’s capital, Columbia, buzzing with talk of impeachment, Sanford, 49, held a press conference to explain himself: he’d gone to visit an Argentinian woman with whom he’d been having an affair. Apologizing to his wife and four sons and choking up repeatedly, Sanford said he’d spent “the last five days of my life crying in Argentina” and had ended the yearlong dalliance. Sanford, a rumored 2012 presidential hopeful, said he would resign as head of the Republican Governors Association.