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{March 12, 2007}   Unfortunately, we’ll always have Paris (Hilton)

Paris HiltonTHE LAST TIME I saw Paris Hilton — across a crowded lawn, during a pre-Oscars picnic lunch at Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg’s Beverly Hills estate — I kept my distance.

After all, what was there to discuss? I’d banned the publicity-craving heiress from my gossip column in the New York Daily News in December 2004. I was faithful to the injunction right up until the moment, less than two years later, when my column was discontinued. But Paris persisted — untroubled by, and no doubt ignorant of, my feeble protest against her terrifying campaign for world domination.

Despite a lack of any discernible talent, education, scruples, manners, modesty or underpants, she is bigger than ever. Her hegemony over the popular culture is so pervasive that a Google search retrieves nearly 16 million “Paris Hilton” citations (although some small portion of those may be references to the Hilton Hotel in Paris), compared with only 3.5 million for “Hillary Clinton,” a woman who would be president.

So I can hardly blame the Associated Press for losing its nerve. The nation’s biggest wire service — which provides breaking news to tens of thousands of media outlets — vowed last month to ignore the trivial pursuits of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton’s leggy, blond great-granddaughter, who combines the sex appeal of a Swedish bikini model with the survival skills of a Norway rat.

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