You know a story is sketchy when even a British tabloid looks at it and goes, "You know, this seems a bit salacious and over the top," as the Daily Mail has just done with the rumor, dating to August but now resurfaced, about how Barack Obama maybe got too close to an anonymous young staffer during his 2004 senate campaign, before Michelle had her exiled to the Caribbean, but probably the whole thing is just a big Republican smear. The Mail tracked the woman down somewhere in the West Indies — they won't give her name or location, dodgy Fleet Street hacks! — and she said "nothing happened. I just left... I switched careers. That’s it." Then the paper got a mysterious call from a London lawyer, and now the right-wing bloggers are saying the scandal has been basically proven.

It seems someone with money is very interested in batting down this rumor:

Senator Obama’s team did not respond to our request for comment.

But one day after we contacted Obama’s team, a London law firm informed The Mail on Sunday that it had been retained by the woman to help her to counter the whispering campaign, which they said was ‘absolutely false’.

The Democratic presidential nominee would be wise to hire a lawyer on the woman's behalf, if that's what he's doing, even if this story is totally false. It allows him to answer the charges without dignifying them with an official campaign response.

Anti-Obama bloggers have already named the woman. They say she's Vera Brown, formerly of the fundraising shop Baker Wambu & Associates, now running Cape Carribean LLC. The Google cache of the firm's homepage, now offline, seems to confirm (highlight text to make it visible) that Brown had the title of National Finance Director for Obama's 2004 senate campaign. And yet, claims one blog, Claire Serdiuk was the real Finance Director — so maybe Vera Baker was getting paid off, or something. Another blogger wonders if Obama and Baker hooked up when Obama went down to the Virgin Islands for his elitist Muslim vacation.

The Mail reported that ABC News and the LA Times "have been provided with the woman's name," whatever that means, so maybe this smear, assuming that's what it is, will be debunked before the election gets any closer. Might as well get it out of the way now so we can move on to the next insane Obama rumor.