“Inspired by?” Coincidence? Hiaasen lends Maureen a hand, no matter which…

Every reporter has a muse, we know that. And smacking poor Maureen Dowd around (twice in as many days, sorry!) for having one, too, might be considered excessive. Until you compare the column she wrote in today’s Times with the one penned by folksy raconteur Carl Hiaasen in the Miami Herald – last Sunday!

Fishbowl isn’t the arbiter of good taste, nor do we want to impugn Ms. Dowd’s unquestionable integrity by whispering of Rick Bragg-ism or even Blayr-ism, but give us a break, already. She practically lifts Hiaasen’s idea of Armstrong Williams-ing for the Bush White House as a paid columnist rather than living on the (not quite so) measly wages Pinch Sulzberger doles out, right down to the examples given of how such effort would make even the most heinous policy move look good.

You compare, then decide. We’re envisioning Maureen at home in the apartment last Sunday, racking her brain trying to find a good column item. And then finding one too good to resist. What, don’t they Google things over on 43rd Street? Carl? Wanna weigh in here?