I realize that we no longer live in an age of heroes.
I realize that we must expect everyone, no matter how important they become, to let us down at one time or another.
Nevertheless, today I feel a special sense of loss. I feel that my trust has been betrayed.
Paula Jones has told a fib.
Paula Jones is the person suing President Clinton for $700,000 because, she says, he dropped his pants and asked for sex in a Little Rock hotel room when he was governor of Arkansas.
But ever since she made her accusations, Jones' own character has been under assault.
A number of publications have portrayed Jones as a tramp, as "poor white trash," as a small-town bimbo from Lonoke, Ark., who, in the famous words of U.S. News & World Report, "took to wearing short, tight skirts to school, and more makeup than other girls in Lonoke, eyeliner, shadow, rouge, red lipstick and lip gloss."
And we all know what that leads to, don't we?
But to me, Jones' alleged trampiness didn't detract from the veracity of her story, but contributed to it.
If you told me that Bill Clinton had dropped his pants in front of Queen Elizabeth II or Pamela Harriman, I would not believe you.
But let's say he was told that a small-town Arkansas bimbo was upstairs in a hotel room and that she had a well-known "rep" for wearing lip gloss and doing other sinful things.
Might that not have affected his behavior a little?
Which is for a jury to decide, if the suit ever comes before a jury.
Clinton's lawyer is arguing that because Clinton is president of -- the United States, he cannot be sued while he is in office for actions that allegedly occurred before he was president.
It is a unique argument. It certainly places the president above the law at least for his term of office. And not only have conservative groups rallied to Jones' cause, but the liberal American Civil Liberties Union also has filed a friend of the court brief arguing against Clinton's position.
But when I went to a press conference that Jones held in October, I was surprised to learn that most reporters in the room wanted to talk about Jones' character and not Clinton's.
It was at that press conference that Jones was asked to characterize the photos of her that were to appear in Penthouse magazine.
"Just normal pictures," she said. "You know, in lingerie and bathing suits, what women have when they have pictures taken like that."
Now, however, the truth has come out.
At the same time a federal judge was temporarily ordering Penthouse not to publish the pictures -- after 400,000 copies of the magazine had already been sent out -- "Entertainment Tonight" and "A Current Affair" were broadcasting the pictures.
And there is no lingerie or bathing suits to be seen.
Instead, there is a great deal of Paula Jones to be seen. She is topless, dressed at most in a G-string.
The pictures were taken in 1987 when Jones was 19 and dating the photographer, who was 32.
Jones, who is now suing Penthouse for $30 million, says the photos were intended for the photographer's private enjoyment only.
So why did Jones deny in October having posed for nudie shots?
Here Joseph Cammarata, an attorney for Jones, made a statement so dumb one becomes convinced that God invented stupidity just to keep lawyers from taking over the world.
"Our best recollection was that there were no nude photos," Cammarata said. "So apparently she didn't have a perfect recollection. What's the big deal?"
What's the big deal?
This: If Paula Jones can't remember whether she dropped her top, how can we trust her to remember whether Bill Clinton dropped his bottoms?
As I said, I believe Jones' sexual past is irrelevant to her claims against Clinton, just as the sexual past of a rape victim is irrelevant.
But Jones' ability to remember events and her record for telling the truth are very relevant.
Is there a moral in all this?
Girls, if you are a teen-ager and your 32-year-old boyfriend wants to take nude photos of you, do not do it.
You might want to sue the president someday.