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ABC's '20/20' unloads on what's left of John Edwards

I wasn't crazy about the breathless tabloid tone, but the Friday night report on "20/20" about John Edwards based on the book by the former senator's one-time aide, Andrew Young, is really something -- even to these jaded eyes.

It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who doesn't know the main plot points in this sorry saga of Edwards, the populist presidential candidate, having an affair with a New Age videographer named Rielle Hunter as his wife is battling cancer.

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That would be bad enough, but the mistress becomes pregnant, and Edwards cooks up a crazed scheme to have Young claim paternity of his child. Over a million dollars of money donated to his campaign is allegedly spent to try and hide his mistress from the "National Enquirer," which is hot on the trail of this incredible tale. And, oh yeah, Elizabeth Edwards, John's wife, is now losing her battle as the cancer invades her bones.

What did you think of Young's account of Edwards and Rielle listening to "their" song, "Steady As We Go," by the Dave Matthews Band, and talking about how great it was going to be for the two of them together "when Elizabeth is gone"?

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Or how about Young alleging that Edwards said he would have the Matthews band play at their wedding  when he was president and "Elizabeth was gone"?

And what about the taped phone messages to Young from Hunter, Edwards, and his wife that were played on the the show? Rielle sounded demanding and crazy, Elizabeth sounded like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist," and Edwards, well, just when you thought he couldn't seem more debased, sleazy or depraved, he surpises you yet again.

ABC News is milking this story shamelessly as it hypes Young's book, "The Politician," but it is still an important story. I love the way the report consistently cut back and forth from the public scenes of Edwards in Iowa when he looked like a real contender to the private web of madness, duplicity and lies he was weaving with Hunter and Young.

Watching this can't help make one a wiser voter -- or at least a more cautious voter the next time one hears the siren song of a sweet talking populist politician. And that justifies almost any excess on the part of ABC News in telling this tale.

The embedding has been disabled, but you can see a portion of last night's report on YouTube here.

CORRECTION: In the second to last paragraph of my orginal post Friday night,  I referred to Young's book as "The Candidate." The correct title is "The Politician." ABC's Friday night broadcast of "20/20" was titled "The Candidate's Secret." Thanks to the commenters who flagged it.

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