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The Deborah Jeane Palfrey story had boffo foreplay and a really shitty climax.

And it started right here at City Paper. That’s where Palfrey, based in California, bought classified advertisements seeking local college-age whores to service her high-powered johns in the DC market.

Well, that was basically how legal authorities played the tale when they busted Palfrey in 2007 and charged her with a variety of prostitution-related crimes.

Not long after the investigation broke, Randall Tobias, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, was outted as a client of the hooker service. Tobias admitted to ABC’s Brian Ross, the pervy looking sweaty dude with the teensy mouth who broke the Tobias angle and pursued the DC Madam story harder than anybody else in mainstream media, that he’d used Palfrey’s services, but insisted he only got massages and never went around-the-world.

Tobias also gave the Palfrey story its  funniest moments, at one point telling Ross that he’d call up the Madam so casually it was “like ordering pizza,” and later having to hear Ross report that Tobias’ main task in the Bush administration was to run a program that aimed to help males in Third World“develop healthy relationships with women.”

Tobias, obviously, had trouble seeing this humor, since he was forced to resign shortly after Ross outted him.

But Ross also led us all astray, telling ABC viewers that Tobias was just the first of many high-powered types whose heads would roll once all the names in Palfrey’s little black book were made public.

“There are people there at the Pentagon, lobbyists, others at the White House, prominent lawyers — a long, long list,” Ross said, telling a CNN audience that the whores worked jobs including “university professors, legal secretaries, scientists, military officers.”

But, in the end, the first big name, Tobias, was also the last to hang. Well, other than Palfrey herself, who was found hanging in a shed behind her mother’s mobile home in Florida in May 2008, shortly before she was scheduled to be sentenced for convictions on money-laundering and other lame counts that didn’t live up to all the early hype.

In retrospect, Palfrey probably would have been better off if City Paper rejected her ads. Oh, yeah: Tobias, too.