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Leakin' U.S.A. 

Journalists, you may have noticed, aren't held in extremely high regard. To hear a lot of people tell it, newspaper columnists in particular are irrelevant little weasels whose petulant rantings are a failed attempt to compensate for their essential powerlessness, and possibly their crippling feelings of sexual inadequacy.

Whenever I hear an argument like that, I try to remind myself that my therapist is just one man with one opinion. But I may not have to put up with it much longer, thanks to Robert Novak, the bejowled Chicago Sun-Times scribe and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire." With but a single injudicious exposé of a CIA operative, Novak has put America's intelligence networks in direct danger and touched off a national crisis that could entail the investigation of hundreds of Washington officials. When the smoke clears, he may even have brought down an administration.

Talk about one man making a difference. They should put his picture on coffee mugs. He's an inspiration.

Emboldened by Novak's show of chutzpah, I've decided to take my own journalistic endeavors in a new and gutsier direction. So I'm making my New Year's resolution three months early: From here on in, I'm leaking like Peter O'Toole on nickel-beer night.

Say bye-bye to the last vestiges of this column's respect for privacy and decorum. It's time to throw caution to the wind. The irresponsible scandal-mongering starts right here and right now, with this little doozy:

1. Rich Crotty has a cousin in the coast guard. Wow, does it feel good to get that off my chest. This "outing" business isn't going to be so scary after all. Whew! Now, how about this one:

2. Buddy Dyer has met with members of the Jehovah's Witnesses -- in his home! Shocking but true. There's no end to the things some people will do to grab a few votes. But you ain't heard nothin' yet:

3. Rachel's is a front for the 4-H Club. Wondering why the vice squad's probe of the Casselberry gentlemen's club turned up a whole lotta nothin'? Maybe it's because the inquisition was just for show in the first place. Behind the club's veneer of D-cup pulchritude and buffet delicacy, Rachel's is a veritable nerve center of projects designed to make our children better citizens. Applied agriculture, scientific literacy and family planning are just three of the subject areas receiving a thorough back-room review -- especially on weekday afternoons, when business is slow and the phenomenally educated "dancers" can put their graduate degrees to their rightful use.

Not incendiary enough for you? You're a free-weekly crowd, all right. Try these bombshells on for size.

4. WKMG-TV weatherman Reynolds Wolf is an advance man for the Medell'n cartel. If you're like us, you can't get enough of the Local 6 meteorologist and his snappy repartee. But when he's not taking playful jabs at the morning's news stories, Wolf delivers forecast predictions that are recognized as an elaborate code by his buddies in the international blow trade. "Partly cloudy" means "the drop is on for midnight," and any mention of the Gulf Stream is a sign that a snitch in the Keys is about to get whacked. Recent broadcasts, though, indicate that laziness may be slipping into Wolf's clandestine lexicon. I mean, come on. "Six feet of snow?" In St. Cloud?

5. Doug Head was once a secret, temporary replacement for Mötley CrŸe drummer Tommy Lee. I started to wonder about Orange County's Democratic party chieftain when he went on record using the word "fuck" in two separate interviews with Orlando Weekly reporter Jeffrey C. Billman. In all my born days, I've only known of one other public figure whose ability to communicate was so dependent on profanity. With just a little effort -- like searching Google and asking around at Wally's -- I uncovered the true depth of the connection.

In the late '80s, when Lee was preoccupied with Heather Locklear and Jack Daniel's, Head filled in for the rock wildman on several concert dates in the Midwest. And no one was the wiser ... until now. A recent wiretap of a phone conversation shows their shared guilt and their mounting awareness that the ruse was finally about to be exposed.;;;

Lee: Head! Dude! Have you heard? Like ... fuck!

Head: I know, I know.

Lee: But dude! I mean ... I mean, fuck!

Head: Yeah, y'know? Like, what the fuck?

Lee: Fuck, dude. Fuck.

Head: And you know what? There's nothing we can fuckin' do, dude.

Lee: Fuckin' nothing? Get the fuck out of here!

Head: No, really. I think we're fucked.

Lee: Dude, that is so fucked up.

Both (in unison): Fuuuuuck.

Lee: Aw, dude!

And cast your peepers on these brief but brain-rattling bulletins:

6. Noelle Bush is on drugs again. Here's how I know: I saw her on TV, and her mouth was open.

7. Who runs the Silver Spurs Rodeo, anyway? Would you believe, "the Saudis"?

8. Nathan Lane is a fifi. Still doing the legwork on this one. I'll get back to you when I've got the goods.

OK, so not every one of these is exactly an earth-shattering revelation. Bear with me; I'm still getting used to the idea that any accusatory lawn dart a journalist wants to throw is now fair game. So I'm sorry if nothing I've said here has the ability to get a federal agent shot in the head and left for dead in the back alleys of some God-forsaken banana republic. I'll try harder next week. After all, we can't all be Bob Novak on the first try.

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