BREAKING NEWS

We interrupt our special Fourth of July commentary for this TMZ Exclusive: Jim Lichtman, ‘Renowned’ Ethics Specialist, is Lost!

Lichtman was last seen giving Mel Gibson advice outside an L.A. eatery (as captured by this grainy cell-phone photo) around June 14th. Sources close to the writer confirmed that in spite of his work with the “ethically challenged,” Lichtman was reported to have spent the entire month of June writing “positive” stories for his Web site.

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“Anyone who knows Jim, knows this can’t be true,” said a fan who chose to remain anonymous.

“Just look at his Web site, www.itsEthicsStupid.com,” a source closer to Lichtman said. “Click on his Let’s Be Honest page where he rips the likes of Donald Trump, Barry Bonds and Glenn Beck! No, Jim is out there… somewhere.”

Jim’s Webmaster, Steve Plainly, confirmed Wednesday that many of Lichtman’s e-mails to the site — some of which read: “Have you gone soft, nuts or both?“; and “What’s with all this ‘positive’ stuff? Where are the hard-hitting reports on Weiner-gate, Edwards-gate and HLN’s obsession with the Casey Anthony trial?”

The disillusionment peaked when Plainly received a copy of this message sent to the site: “Jim, You’ve lost your edge. (signed) Nancy Grace.”

While stories abound from former pitcher Roger Clemens who goes on trial next week accused of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs to Lance Armstrong facing the possibility of losing all seven of his Tour de France trophies, and MSNBC’s Mark Halperin’s suspension after calling President Obama a crude name, Lichtman was nowhere to be found.

Perhaps saddest of all is the fact that TMZ bumped the “Lichtman Lost” story before ever going national in favor of the Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Reynolds — Divorce Final.

However, the question of Lichtman’s whereabouts remained a troubling question until an anonymous source volunteered that the ethics writer was spotted on VH-1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky.

“I can neither confirm nor deny reports about my good friend, Jim Lichtman,” said actor Gary Busey, a past celeb rehabist.

Former Hollywood madam, Heidi Fleiss commented, “I don’t even know who this guy is!

However, late last night (July 3) a source close to Dr. Drew confirmed that Lichtman had voluntarily checked-in to a facility that was wired for both sound and picture. (Lichtman was identified from his distinctive white sneakers at the far left.)

Following his own admission that he had, in fact, been writing way too many positive stories over the last month, an e-mail source (known only as H. Birch) said that Lichtman was trying to recover after spending the month attempting “to bring about more peace and harmony through positive role-models.”

“The poor fool,” Birch added, who spoke to TMZ on condition of anonymity. “I think the strain of writing stories like The UpsideThe Ethics of Nothing (what the heck was that supposed to be about?), or his March book Shameless, which frankly, didn’t receive the kind of response he’d hoped for, finally got to him.”

“Look, I know the guy, okay,” actor Busey finally acknowledged. “Jim’s a square guy. His problem is that it’s a hexagonal world out there and Jim just doesn’t fit in. Let’s face it,” Busey concluded, “EthicsStupid don’t get Kardashian ratings. But,” he added, “don’t count him out!”

Birch agrees. “Yeah, I guess he’ll be back, and,” he added, “…crankier than ever, once he gets his head straight.”

Back by popular demand, this commentary originally appeared July 4, 2011. Have a great Holiday!

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