IN THE MIDST of a grand Washington ruckus, with the cymbals crashing, the trumpets sounding and the hounds baying, the person at the center of it all has quietly gone and done a very unfair thing: she has changed her name. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is the focus of at least five congressional investigations and scores of news stories, is no longer named Mrs. Gorsuch. She is now Mrs. Burford, for the unexceptionable reason that she married a man named Burford last weekend.

It is unclear whether this will knock a key prop out of the elaborate structure of the building scandal. But it's real possibility that about 75 percent of the people who have been conscientiously trying to keep their indignation and attention levels at the appropriate altitude for this sort of thing are going to see that somebody named Burford is now the head of EPA and conclude that either (1 Anne Gorsuch has been fired or (2) this has all gotten too complicated and the hell with it.

No feminist would admit it, but Mrs. Burford has availed herself of a refuge a male officeholder could never hope to use. Imagine what Lyndon Johnson could have done with a simple change of name ("Snyder OKs Pact Ending 'Johnson's War'") or Richard Nixon ("Filbert Disavows Actions of Nixon Aides").

But, of course, men have no such respectable route as matrimony for escaping the notoriety their names have acquired. And to seek a name change in court is so transparent a ploy as to be political suicide. So don't even think about it, Watt.