Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when every news organization in Washington was feeding out of Kenneth Starr's soft little hand like a Shetland pony.
Having recently left the country for a few weeks of media deprivation therapy, I returned to find excited pundits comparing President Obama to Richard M. Nixon on the basis of three transparently bogus White House "scandals" that make Starr's fabled "Whitewater" investigation look like the crime of the century.
Once again, the word "impeachment" is in the air, as excited GOP congressmen dream of driving a Democratic president from office. Once again, the nation appears to be headed for a fun-filled summer of televised hearings, elaborately feigned indignation, and predictions of dramatic revelations that either never materialize or blow up in their sponsors' faces.
So nobody's getting impeached on this tripartite nonsense, OK? Anyway, let's take them one at a time:
One: Regarding IRS "targeting" of right-wingers, I'm planning to rename my little one-man cattle operation "Tea Party Patriot Farm." With that on my Schedule C, the IRS won't DARE to audit my tax returns. I'll be free to deduct not only feed bills and veterinary expenses, but pizzas, movie tickets, six-packs, whatever.
But see, that's the thing. Contrary to 1,000 indignant screeds and editorial cartoons, no aggrieved Tea Partiers got audited, fined, or jailed. Instead, they saw their applications to turn their political hobbies into tax-free scams -- oops, charities -- delayed for a few months, on the quite reasonable assumption (from an IRS functionary's point of view) that an organization named for a political party might actually be one. Boo hoo hoo.
Two: Then there's the Great Benghazi Cover-up. As this column pointed out last December, it's largely a matter of selective quotation. Nobody at the CIA or State Department who had a hand in preparing Susan Rice's "talking points" on the Sunday shows knew with any certainty who organized the attack.
And it's worthwhile pointing out THEY STILL DON'T KNOW.
Three: As for the Associated Press flap, the Los Angeles Times reports that its "disclosure of a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen last year compromised ... an informant who had earned the trust of hardened terrorists."
If true, that's perilously close to treason. In which case the Justice Department had every reason to subpoena AP phone records after other means of finding the leaker's identity failed. Sorry, but journalists have no rights that trump those of ordinary citizens in a serious criminal investigation.
Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons can be reached at email@example.com.