This is Tom Wolfe’s America and we are just living in it. Compare Wolfe’s excellent “Bonfire of the Vanities” to the Imus debacle. Stories of unbridled self interest and egotism both.

Here you have a stupid and off-color comment from a broadcasting legend that was paid to make stupid and off-color remarks. But Rev’s Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who clearly fear social irrelevance more than infamy, embarked on their thunderous “pay attention to me” protests.

The media banged the war drums as it gave the media the chance to discuss their favorite topic –the media. The talking heads wore their best disapproving faces. The Rutgers basketball team cried and held press conferences about how distraught they were that someone they hardly knew existed called them a name that they had to be told about to be offended.

The team’s coach appeared on every news show in the country demanding not just a public therapy session on race in America but a private apology. Imus apologized to every camera he could find in a desperate attempt to save his career but MSNBC fired him followed by CBS Radio because the guy they hired to push the envelope pushed the envelope.

Now get this, it was decided that the Rutgers basketball team and Imus would meet at…the Governor’s mansion with Governor John Corzine inserting himself as moderator (leading some sensible people to question if the Governorship should necessarily be a full time job.) Corzine was then involved in a serious multi-car accident in his attempt to act as ringleader in the great American art form – the public spectacle.

The media showed live news coverage of the outside the Governor’s mansion for hours until the basketball coach exited only to tell the media that they had no comment as it’s very late which actually meant that nobody’s watching television so it wasn’t worth talking about until the morning news shows.

This is a sad story- a disgusting story from start to finish. The Governor is in critical condition. Imus’ career is terminal. The prognosis for America is…well…Wolfe-ish.