The Dowd plagiarism thing is just too delicious. The cut-and-paste from Josh Marshall is eye-popping by itself, of course. JMM:

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Dowd on Sunday, via Delong:

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

I love that it’s Josh in particular, because TPM is serious business and because Josh has (rightly) busted on newspaper reporters for lifting from blogs without attribution. But Dowd’s excuse takes it to the next level:

josh is right. I didn’t read his blog last week, and didn’t have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now.

i was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent — and I assumed spontaneous — way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.

but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me.
we’re fixing it on the web, to give josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction tomorrow.

This sort of excuse really rings a familiar bell for academics, especially at this time of year. Just imagine things going down that way. What articulate friends you have! What amazing recall! This ranks with “there was a footnote, but my girlfriend accidentally deleted it.” (Seriously! Someone said this!). See also Dave Noon‘s flashback. I guess I expected that Dowd would have a better excuse than a lazy sophomore, but then again the big revelation of the last few years has been that the op-ed page is as bad as it seems.

(My current favorite excuse, as I think I’ve mentioned, is this email exchange: the student says “here’s the assignment” yet there’s no attachment; when I point this out, the student is mysteriously away from email for several days, then sends along a file created the day before. This semester I’ve got a novel twist: an attachment in some long-defunct format. All your other emailed files were .doc, my friend– you chose this moment to switch to wordperfect? And then you stayed away from the computer for days?)