Celebrity Bush-basher Joe Wilson, you’ll recall, got a wet kiss from Vanity Fair, untold amounts of Sunday morning air time for his hot air (and a head of hair that’s right up there with Kedwards’!), and a big fat book contract.

This gloire for saying that President Bush lied, in his State of the Union, no less, about the Iraqi’s trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. 

“[N]ow Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV — he of the Hermes ties and Jaguar convertibles — has been thoroughly discredited,” writes Clifford May in National Review. “Last week’s bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report concluded that it is he who has been telling lies.”

If this comes as news to you, Inky is not going to take away your gold star for current events — you have every reason to have missed it. The chattering classes, once so unable to get enough of Joe, haven’t made a big deal about this.

The columnist Robert Novak has maintained silence since he reported that Wilson’s wife was an undercover CIA operative who had suggested her husband for the mission to Niger, where he supposedly learned that the yellowcake story was a fabrication.

Blowing the cover of a CIA operative is serious business, and I won’t joke about that (even though I was amused that she posed Mata Hari style with her face partially obscured for the big Vanity Fair photo shoot — some things mortal flesh just can’t resist, n’est pas?).

But it turns out, according to the Senate report, that Wilson got the job thanks to his wife’s intervention — and, oh, yes, the Iraqis wanted that yellowcake as badly as some people want to be on “Meet the Press.”

Novak has broken silence on the subject of Joe Wilson today, and his column is a must read. He explains why Democrats on the Hill, while endorsing the findings of the report, would not put the only conclusions to be drawn in the report:

“Wilson’s activities constituted the only aspects of the yearlong investigation for which the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, was unable to win unanimous agreement. Peculiarly, the Democrats accepted the evidence building up to the Wilson conclusions but not the conclusions themselves. According to committee sources, Roberts felt Wilson had been such a ’cause celebre’ for Democrats that they could not face the facts about him.

“For a year, Democrats have been belaboring President Bush about 16 words in his 2003 State of the Union address in which he reported Saddam Hussein’s attempt to buy uranium from Africa, based on official British information. Wilson has been lionized in liberal circles for allegedly contradicting this information on a CIA mission and then being punished as a truth-teller. Now, for Intelligence Committee Democrats, it is as though the Niger question and Joe Wilson have vanished from the earth.”