By Colleen Smith, staff reporter

President Bush has chosen a new press secretary to replace the outgoing Ari Fleischer who had resigned citing the usual cliché reasons. Unlike his bald predecessor, Scott McClellan has a full head of hair. I wondered if these facts were only a coincidence.

Tired of the usual hyperbole about wanting to spend time with family, or taking a job in the private sector, I wanted to know what was really going on; so I went to Washington seeking the real story. In contrast to the White House's usual tight-lipped ways, aide Jeffery Mathers spoke to me, and confirmed what I had suspected.

"As you probably know," said Mathers," The reporters who come to White House briefings have stopped taking Ari seriously. At one point, they were even laughing at him out loud. What you don't know is that some of us have always doubted his ability to handle the job. He is bald, and very self-conscious about it. That lack of confidence has always come across. Once it became such a problem that he lost his credibility, President Bush was completely befuddled. When he doesn't know what to do, he always asks Karl Rove.

The aide told me that Bush said, "Karl, those darn reporters just don't seem to respect Ari. What's wrong? He's a likeable guy." Rove said, "They don't like old cue ball because no one respects a bald man. You need a press secretary who has what it takes to be respected at the top: hair." He immediately recommended Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

I was taken aback at this, as there had been stories in the press about how Ari Fleischer was a sex symbol. I asked Mathers about that, and he said, "Oh, Dick Cheney made that story up, and they reported it because he's the Vice President, and you don't defy Dick Cheney! He wanted to try to save Ari's career as press secretary because he is bald too. They stick together. When that story came out, my girlfriend, Brittany said, "He is so old looking, and gross. Just look at that bald shiny forehead! He's no sex symbol. George Stephanopoulos was a sex symbol." Mathers went on to say, "Why do you think Bill O'Reilly wears that ridiculous rug? Do you think people would take him seriously if he showed his chrome dome?"

At a briefing given by McClellan, it was palpable that the press corps took him seriously, but one thing was clear. He has a receding hair line. If he continues to lose hair, he, too could suffer the fate of Ari Fleischer.