No one was surprised when it was revealed that Karl Rove was one of the leakers to Matt Cooper of Time magazine.

As a patriot and a trusted aide to President Bush, it was his job. You can't have an informed public unless you have high government officials to protect the president and do havoc to his enemies.

What people still don't understand is that leaks are used by the government to get across the message that it makes no mistakes.

This is how we in the elite media work in Washington.

First I have a cup of coffee. Then I go through the mail. Leaks never come on White House letterhead. That would be too obvious, and it would also be turned over to a grand jury. The leak, if it arrives in an envelope, is usually a message made from letters cut out of magazines such Penthouse, Newsweek or the National Review.

If there's nothing in the mail, I start reading my e-mails. Leakers prefer e-mails because it saves on postage and is the fastest way of getting the leak in the papers.

After reading all my e-mails I get on the phone. First I call the White House.

"May I speak to Karl Rove? I'm a friend of Robert Novak's. . . . Oh, he's in a meeting with the president? . . . What am I calling about? . . . Let me give you a hint -- drip, drip, drip. Do you get it? . . . I promise you I will keep it under deep cover. . . . All right, deep, deep secret cover. . . . No, it has nothing to do with liberals having a bad attitude about 9/11. . . . I did that story already.

"Does he have anything new that he didn't leak to Novak or Cooper? . . . Anyone in the CIA who is married to an ambassador who just came back from Africa, and didn't find any uranium there? I know it's farfetched, but people are interested in any reason for what the hell we are doing in Iraq.

"Well, when he's finished, he can call me back on my cell phone. I'll take anything he leaks that is destructive to Democrats against the war, Senator Kerry, Howard Dean and any others Rove decides are the usual anti-Bush suspects.

"Thank you. Now will you give me back to the operator? . . .

"Operator, I am a friend of Robert Novak's. Is there anyone in Dick Cheney's office or on his staff who has anything he wants to leak today? . . . No, you won't offend Novak. He has so many leaks to handle as it is and he said he didn't mind if I made this call.

"The vice president isn't in town? Then let me speak to a high government official who could leak a story to me. I'll take anything. . . .

"Hello, I was put through to you because I understand you are a high government official who prefers to remain nameless. I am a friend of Robert Novak's, and he told me that you are an unimpeachable source in the same class as Deep Throat. You don't have to leak any new information. Just tell me if my facts are right or wrong, in case I'm called in front of a special prosecutor. Promise me you will waive your right to remain silent and I can say you were my source. . . . Well, don't get so upset. I get waivers from all my sources. Otherwise, I could be in jail right now."

He hung up.

Karl Rove never called me back.

(c) 2005, Tribune Media Services