Not long after Salon gave birth to the intriguing little campaign story-that-could late last week, mainstream media, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, took an interest as the story's binary thrusters kicked in and rocketed it around the wired 21st-century globe.
Now, the lightning current of rumors and theories about whether the Prez was packin' some kind of audio device beneath the ol' suit jacket to help him get through the debates against John Kerry has really hit the big time. As a recent Annenberg survey showed, television comedy shows are often as influential today in American politics as the news networks -- and in some cases even more so. (Jon Stewart must be feeling elated -- but also getting scared that there's nowhere to go next but down.)
The bulge made its network television comedy debut last night on "The Late Show" with David Letterman.
LETTERMAN: "Here's my favorite story about the debates. You probably saw this in the newspaper. There's a rumor going around that President Bush in the first debate had some kind of listening device, and somebody was feeding him answers to the questions for the debate. They actually had a photograph of him and there was a bulge in his jacket. And I was thinking, 'Well you know, that's an improvement over the last guy, who had a bulge in his pants.'"
Notwithstanding bizarre denials by the White House, there's just no keeping juicy conspiracy theories -- or the beloved Bubba -- out of American politics.
UPDATE (3 p.m. PDT): Curiously, though the bulge story has now bounced from San Francisco to Singapore to Sao Paulo nine times over, righty gossip monger Matt Drudge hasn't gone anywhere near it. War Room, along with other bloggers, has been keeping a close eye on the Drudge Report to see if Drudge would, um, touch the Bush bulge. And if so, what he would do with it.
We'll keep ya posted.