WASHINGTON — One day after Rep. Christopher Lee was exposed for his bare-chested lie on Craigslist and resigned his House seat, conservative women gathered here today sought to paint him as an exception.

“You know, I don’t know what he was thinking,” said Paula Tyler of the conservative website Smart Girl Politics, speaking above the din of the exhibit hall at CPAC, the annual gathering of conservative activists. “I don’t understand that kind of behavior.”

Lee, who represented western New York, resigned at what passed for light speed when it comes to congressional scandals after the gossip website Gawker revealed he had sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman whose Craigslist ad he answered. Gawker said the 46-year-old Lee, who is married with one child, told the woman he was a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist.

“It’s a shame, but this has happened so many times,” said Carol Eberly of the Independent Women’s Forum.

Speaking of other politicians who have been embroiled in sex scandals — but unlike Lee are still in office, such as Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Sen. John Ensign of Nevada — she said, “They have so much power that they abuse it, they lose a sense of who they are.”

If there is a silver lining, Eberly said, it is that Lee resigned his position within hours, “so he may get a chance at redemption.”

For Helen Mary Warren, a “Vatican Catholic” from Boston whose lapel was filled with red, white and blue rhinestone pins, Lee’s alleged offense was inexplicable.

“Married people don’t go on Craigslist,” she said. “You take a vow to God with your marriage vows. And a congressman is held to a higher standard. He did do the right thing to resign. I’ll leave it up to the carpenter, Jesus, to judge.”