I don’t believe the In 1987 Sarah Palin Had A One-Night Stand With NBA Star-to-Be Glen Rice story that the National Enquirer and the new Palin book by Joe McGinniss are promoting. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past three years, it’s that Sarah Palin Doesn’t Like Rice.

Here’s Glen Rice. (Getty Images)

I blame John Edwards.

If it weren’t for the fact that he actually was the despicable scraping from the bottom of humanity’s shoe that the Enquirer suggested, we wouldn’t have to take the magazine seriously every time it comes out with another Lurid Revelation From Somebody’s Personal Life.

And if the Doonesbury comic strip’s Special Preview snippets from the McGinniss Palin book are any indication, there are dozens of Lurid Revelations where that came from.

Where to begin?

I think Sarah Palin’s hairstyle from this era is mortifying enough without bringing one-night stands into the picture.

But look, uh, I don’t — uh, do we really have to dignify this with —

I wrote about Al Gore’s putative assault on a masseuse a year ago, so this is not unfair game.

Or is it?

If there is one thing that is true about Sarah Palin, it is that Her Private Life Is Not Off Limits. I’m sorry. Once you have a reality TV series, once you invite the cameras in, the blinking red eye never turns away.

But can we talk about the book for a second?

The same book alleges that Sarah Palin is “isn’t comfortable in the presence of dark-skinned people,” that she was a “housewife who happened to be governor,” that she only read People magazine on airplanes, that she shopped all day, and that she liked to wear push-up bras to meetings. And that’s just so far this week.

Look, it would be a stretch of the imagination to say that I have overwhelmingly and exclusively positive feelings towards Sarah Palin.

But come on.

I don’t want to speak ill of someone who actually has said nice things about me on the Internet — a rare quality in this day and age — but if the rest of McGinniss’s book consists of what the Doonesbury preview has so far consisted of, namely, unattributed slurs from “People Who Know Palin Well,” what was the point of moving next door to her for a year?

“I have actually spoken to Unspecified Alaskans about Sarah Palin,” this book says. “You can trust me, because she could see my house from her house!”

Is that all we were waiting for?

“Oh, I’m sure McGinniss is right that she snorted cocaine off an oil drum! He lived next door to her for a year!” Is this the standard?

I could do that. I live sort of near the White House, and you would not believe how many shrooms Michelle Obama constantly ingests. It boggles the mind. Someone close to Joe Biden told me that he likes to inject kittens with heroin. Once I saw Malia bite the head off a bat.

Surely there has to be more to it than this.

The wilder the allegation, the more perfect and colorful it is, the more I would love to believe it because it is so perfectly in character that it practically sings off the page — the more I’d like to see the sources. “On her first day of office, Sarah changed the screensaver on the mayor's official computer to read, ‘GOD LOVES YOU, SARAH PALIN’ ” — this is exactly the sort of juicy revelation the Lamestream Media wanted when we nabbed all those Palin e-mails.

That’s what makes me nervous.

It’s what made me nervous about the Gore one-nighter as well. The details were just too perfect. “Get off me, you big lummox!” is exactly what you’d say to Al Gore if he attempted to embrace you forcefully.

Glen Rice apparently confirmed the affair to the Enquirer. Sure, it’s possible. Anything’s possible. In some universe, if I’m understanding Richard Feynman correctly, I am president of the United States and the entire population has been replaced by friendly snowmobiles.

Maybe we needed this. Among the out-of-work these days are all those people whose livelihood consisted of making Palin-related sex jokes. Apparently they were more numerous than I realized. “She brings it on herself,” they argue. “Look at all those magazine covers! Besides, having a one-night stand with Glen Rice isn’t even a deal-breaker! I think it humanizes her.”

Maybe it’s all true. Maybe it’s not bad reporting, just mean, unscrupulous neighbors. Maybe it’s some combination of truth, falsehood and outlandish hearsay. These things usually are.

But between the horrid racial anxiety and all the Palin Is Dumb, Palin Is A Housewife, Palin Is A Woman Of Ill Repute Who Loves To Shop And Shop And Shop jokes that have been diffusing through the atmosphere like a foul aroma, this story is achieving the impossible. It has made me want to defend Sarah Palin.

Listen, friends. The horse that you have been beating for the past three years is dead. It died a long time ago. Not only is it dead, you are 8 feet underground and digging deeper with every blow. I know that the habit of beating it is a hard one to break, but at this point I’m beginning to wonder who’s crazy.

Even a majority of Republicans don’t want her to run for president! Do you really need to character-assassinate like this? This isn’t even character assassination. This is on the level of Book 22 of the Iliad, when Achilles mutilates Hector’s dead body and drags it around the walls of Troy behind his chariot.

Hector is dead. Give it a rest. You’re just embarrassing yourself.