Rarely has there been a more unedifying display in Parliament than that put on by the Speaker and National MPs on Tuesday night.
Speaker Trevor Mallard had earlier billed it as his opportunity to tell "the truth" about his actions toward a former Parliamentary staffer he falsely accused of 'rape.'
The settlement he signed had allowed him only to discuss the issue if he was asked about it in Parliament.
That chance was last night when Mallard fronted up in Parliament for the annual review of Parliamentary Service.
Prosecuting him were National MPs Chris Bishop and Michael Woodhouse, continuing their crusade for the Speaker to be sacked over the issue.
Both sides were appalling. But the Speaker was the one who should have taken the higher ground.
Mallard's greatest liabilities are his short fuse, and a stubborn streak.
He might have thought he did himself some good in being able to explain his decisions, boast of the wider changes he has made around Parliament, and why he was reticent to admit earlier he was wrong to accuse the man of 'rape.'
But he did himself no good at all in terms of his primary job as Speaker.
The key duties of a Speaker are to maintain the dignity and order of Parliament, and to exercise impartiality.
Last night, the Speaker himself was breaching all three. Consider Parliament brought into disrepute.
It is against the rules to even insinuate a Speaker is not impartial – but that rule comes with a responsibility on the Speaker to at least try to achieve impartiality.
Where a Speaker is openly hostile to Opposition MPs, that is a hard rule to adhere to.
It did not help that the man interrogating him was Bishop. There is no love lost between the two men, and Bishop knows just how to light Mallard's short fuse.
At one point, Bishop referred to the 'tawdry, sordid' series of events. He may as well have been talking about the debate in Parliament.
Mallard's first exchange was not to deliver the 'truth' he had promised, but instead to attack Bishop for his campaign to try to get that truth out of him.
He accused Bishop of using a general debate speech to attack Mallard when Mallard did not have a right of reply because he was the Speaker and therefore could not take part in the debate himself.
"It takes, I think, someone pretty special to make a totally out-of-order debate during a general debate, someone with a different set of values and a different moral compass, to make a set of allegations in an out-of-order way in a general debate, when the person who is being attacked has no ability to reply."
He then accused Bishop of causing distress to the women victims in the case, and National of being part of a "culture of cover-up" for "siding with" the man at the centre of the case rather than the victims.
After that exchange, Bishop stood and noted that Mallard had already shown contempt. "I do not believe anyone watching the Parliament tonight could look at that display of petulance and contempt and hate for both me and Parliament, actually, and consider that he is appropriate to continue in the role."
Nor did Labour do the Speaker any good in that regard. Running interference for him were Labour's whips Kieran McAnulty and Willow-Jean Prime.
Prime went so far as to accuse the National MPs of victim-shaming, and running similar lines to the 'her skirt is too short'.
It was an over the top accusation and little wonder National MPs objected to it.
But National too needs to take a good, hard look at itself and the doggedness with which its MPs have pursued the Speaker over this.
For months the National Party has questioned and attacked Mallard over the defamation settlement.
They have pled the case for the staffer in question, saying Mallard had "destroyed his life" by a false accusation and dragging it out through legal proceedings instead of admitting early on he had erred.
They have not denigrated or questioned the veracity of the women the man is alleged to have sexually harassed – they have tried to leave them out of the debate altogether.
But their apparently unquestioning acceptance and advocacy of that man's side of the story has made it easier for the Labour MPs to accuse them of doing so.
Mallard and Labour MPs too have done little good in this regard by constantly bringing those women back into the debate, claiming they were being re-victimised whenever the issue was raised.
That in turn has led to accusations they are trying to use the women to protect Mallard.
The 'truth' that Mallard delivered included using privilege to say while the man's actions did not amount to rape, there was (allegedly, although Mallard did not use that word) "serious sexual assault."
Questions should be asked about Mallard's actions, and Mallard should be able to respond – but not at any cost. Both sides have now gone too far.
The clearly unimpressed Leader of the House, Chris Hipkins, summed up the ungodly melodrama the most accurately.
"I don't think it reflected well on Parliament as a whole, I don't think it reflected well on pretty much everyone that was taking part in that debate.
"I don't think the debating chamber of Parliament is the best place to deal with these types of issues.
"I don't think it was a victim-centric approach, I don't think it was fair on the person the allegations were against either."
If Mallard's resignation is due, after last night it is not for the reasons National has set out. It is not because of the defamation settlement or the length of time it took for him to admit he was wrong, or because he wrongly accused a man of rape.
It is partly because he used Parliamentary privilege to make further claims about a man who has little recourse to challenge those claims publicly.
It should be because last night he abandoned any pretence of impartiality and the dignity of his role.