I have a more than passing familiarity with pants.

When you’ve got skinny legs like mine, you learn all about pants. You learn which pants give you the illusion of having a rear end. You learn that when wearing a suit, you also wear suspenders. Because for really thin guys, like for really fat guys, pants held up with suspenders drape better than those worn with a belt. You learn – or at least ought to damn well learn – not to try to wear your jeans fashionably (read: “stupidly”) down below your hips, because they just won’t stay on that way. Instead, you pull your jeans up high and cinch them with a belt. You also pray to Whomever that your pathetic attempt to keep your pants up doesn’t result in – how do I phrase this nicely? – an unsightly bulge up front.

When you’ve got silly legs, three generations of clotheshorses preceding you, a little bit of money and a smattering of taste, you get to know pants intimately. So I know pants.

And I like my pants – but I don’t always like to wear them.

Show me a hot tub, and the pants are coming off. If it’s after dark, or at least in a neighborhood nice enough that the cops aren’t on patrol, then what’s under them is coming off, too. Give me a cocktail or nine and some friendly company, and there’s a good chance my pants will end up on the floor long before I do. But that’s just the life-of-the-party side of me, and one of the few things about my life marriage has yet to change. Although I’m certain my bride is working on it.

This would probably be a good time to tell the story about the first time I did tequila shots, and how I lost my pants at BC’s Tavern in Eureka, California, and how I just barely avoided going to jail that night. I would tell that story, but you’ve got the gist of it already, methinks.

And pants is a fun word to say. As Jeff Goldstein might write:

Are those your pants?

Yes, those pants belong to me.

Or as David Letterman’s voiceover guy has been saying for years, “World Wide Pants – the world leader in entertainment, and pants.”

Go on and say it out loud with me, even if you’re in a meeting at work. “Pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.” Fun, isn’t it?

But today, for once, I’m not thinking about my pants. I’m not, at least not at this very moment, even thinking about what’s in my pants. I’m – oh dear Whomever save me – thinking about Sandy Berger’s pants.

And I’m – oh dear Whomever there’s no hope for me is there? – thinking about what’s inside Sandy Berger’s pants:

Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had made while reading classified anti-terror documents at the archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants.

That’s right – the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton stuffed classified information down his pants and walked (a bit oddly, I’d wager) to his car. So that I might not be labeled a partisan hack, let me first say something in Sandy’s defense – at least he didn’t also have a shredder down there. Because you just know that Fawn Hall could have destroyed top secret documents with a top-secret spy device hidden in her not-so-Top-Secret cotton thong.

And before we continue with this sad excuse for an essay, let us be thankful that I didn’t use this segue to force you to picture Sandy Berger in a cotton thong.

Now then. The fact that Berger stole classified data doesn’t bother me. The fact that he stuffed them down his pants doesn’t bother me. God knows, I’ve stuffed enough inappropriate items down my pants to make both Berger and Hall blush, and then get them so hot and bothered that they’d have to make out. Nope, those two facts don’t bother me at all. (On the other hand, I’m slightly drunk. Ask me in the morning if the thought bothers me, of Sandy Berger and Fawn Hall, with their unmentionables filled with Top Secret memos, making out on a White House basement desk, and I’m likely to throw up on your lap.)

Let me tell you what bothers me.

Berger was the National Security Advisor who was so hidebound by legalities, that he told his boss not to accept Sudan’s offer to turn over Osama bin Laden to us back in 1996:

“The FBI did not believe we had enough evidence to indict bin Laden at that time, and therefore opposed bringing him to the United States,” said Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, who was deputy national security adviser then.

Eight years ago, Osama wasn’t exactly on the top of our National Worry List. But we knew of him, we knew of his declaration of war against us, and we knew he’d already attacked us. So who cares if we didn’t have enough to indict him? There are quiet ways of permanently dealing with our enemies, assuming we can get our hands on them.

Clinton had the chance, served up on a platter. Sandy Berger worried about the legal niceties and, five years later, 3,000 Americans were killed in New York, in Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon. And some of the blame for that rests at the document-stuffed shoes of Sandy Berger.

One of the National Security Advisor’s jobs is to tell the President that something nasty has to be done to some even nastier person. Berger, more concerned with legalities than with national security (which should be the Attorney General’s job, not the NSA’s), told Clinton to let Osama go.

And yet not even that is what bothers me.

What bothers me – and what should bother you – is that the man who was too concerned with the law to get Osama when he had the chance, was rather cavalier about the law when it came to shoving classified items down his 46-inch waistband.

Sandy Berger covered his ass, quite literally, with the papers which, just might, show how he inadvertently helped Osama bin Laden murder the asses of 3,000 of Berger’s fellow Americans.

Once, when I was young and foolish, I almost spent the night in jail for dropping trou in public. What should become of Sandy Berger for stuffing his?