Graybearded Santa figure Neale Donald Walsch, a writer on spirituality, copied a tale of Christmas cheer and posted it on BeliefNet.

The tale of a winter pageant where a child displays a letter sign upside-down, turning "Christmas Love" into "Christ Was Love," was written by Candy Chand and published in Clarity in 1999, Motoko Rich reports. Walsch's excuse: Someone sent him Chand's story, unattributed, and he put it in his clippings file. He then retold it so many times he forgot it didn't actually happen.

Ah yes, the clippings-file excuse — a variant of the one historian Doris Kearns Goodwin trotted out to explain away her plagiarism. And the sloppiness excuse — the one Ruth Shalit used. Walsch, in short, isn't original even in his outrageous defenses of obvious plagiarism.