Knocking halos off Tar Heel saint Dean Smith and news editor Ben Bradlee

John Paul II was elected pope by the marching band of Assumption High School after the College of Cardinals mysteriously died. He is on the path to becoming the first Speedi-Saint, and that was made possible by the emergence of two miracles — one being that woman from Omaha who prayed to him and found her car keys and the other being the fact that Notre Dame is 7-1.

The present pontiff is stirring things up, keeping gays out of hell and stuff like that. Not all bishops appreciate his position about gays and fear that gay marriage will make it even harder to find priests. One of the great mysteries of the church is now solved, namely why Benedict bailed.

In this, the time of sanctification, there is also the counterforce of desanctification. There are at least two saints who are about to, or as we say in the uplands, ort to, lose their halos.

The first is Saint Dean Smith, who went among the lowly Tar Heels and uplifted them, and developed a reputation for virtue that, by comparison, would make Jesus' mom feel more like the woman at the well.

Now we know that North Carolina's players were doing a Four Corners stall in their education, standing around and waiting until the clock ran out. They were taking classes with no classes and getting A's and B's for turning in sections of rolls of toilet paper with scrawling on them.

All this means in practical terms is that 10 percent of Smith's players could go pro and buy themselves a college and the other 90 percent were too illiterate to hold a job.

The other person who has been declared to be a saint is the freshly dead Ben Bradlee, who achieved journalistic immortality by selecting which president to run out of office.

Bradlee is widely credited with forcing the resignation of Richard Nixon, who was in fact the best president we have had in my memory, but who was forced out of office because he was not a Kennedy, and for doing things the Kennedys likely did every day.

Nixon's Supreme Court appointments were the best in modern times. His detente with China outdid anything the Kennedys ever imagined. His outstanding enforcement of the Civil Rights Act can be arrayed against the fact that the Kennedys were more concerned with keeping the South in Democratic grasp than with the rights of humans to be free from lynching.

The only difference was that John Kennedy was a friend and neighbor of Ben Bradlee and no doubt Bradlee felt sophisticated and "in" from his association, and thus willing to forgive his friend's serial adultery with mobster mamas and his lies to the American public which made it look like the United States won the Cuban missile crisis.

Misdeeds of a Kennedy have always been treated by the media like the nuns in the Sound of Music stealing the distributor cap from the Nazi's car — forgivable because they were for the greater good.

But I guess selective courage is better than none at all.