Hoochjpg_1 Pop Quiz: You're a public figure who's just had a very public fall from grace. You're flailing. Your PR people are scrambling to manage the situation. What do you do???

Answer: Check into rehab!

That's the answer for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has just announced that he's entering a treatment program from alcohol abuse. Newsom's affair with a staffer was disclosed last week.

Nevermind that Newsom's problem doesn't really have anything to do with alcohol per se.

It's getting to be a well-worn playbook for public officials. Last fall, when Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty to his ties with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, he blamed alcohol and announced he was entering rehab. And Rep. Mark Foley, famously dethroned over the House page scandal, checked himself into rehab, just to be safe. Mel Gibson followed his anti-Semitic meltdown last summer with a stint in rehab.

Checking into an alcohol treatment program (even non-residential ones like Newsom's) gives public figures a chance to say, "Look! I'm healing! I'm doing something." And in many cases it means hands-off to the inquiring press.

Look, if these people do have an alcohol problem, then it's good they're getting treatment. Blah blah blah. But the whole scandal+rehab thing is getting so predictable, it's offensive.

Apparently, Homer Simpson was right when he said:

Here's to alcohol, the cause of -- and solution to -- all life's problems.