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DISNEY TO BUY APPLE AND PIXAR!!! STEVE JOBS TO BECOME CHAIRMAN OF WALT DISNEY CO.!!! DISNEYLAND TO CHANGE NAME OF  TOMORROWLAND TO OS X-LAND!!! APPLE TO PRODUCE MACKY, THE EIGHTH DWARF!!! EPCOT CENTER GIVEN TRANSLUCENT, BLUEBERRY-COVERED CASING!!!

Or so says the Drudge Report. The Matt Drudge-run Web site -- best known for telling us what President Clinton does when not attending state dinners -- reported Monday that merger talks were ongoing between Disney, Apple and Pixar. Drudge further gushed in alternating type that Apple CEO Steve Jobs "'may leverage the computer giant and tech-studio to catapult himself to the chairmanship of DISNEY,' one insider close to the action told the DRUDGE REPORT."

Well... you gotta love the classics.

The Disney-Apple-Pixar-merge story with the Steve-Jobs-named-Head-Mouseketeer-for-life angle has appeared in one form or another several times during the past few years. Like a whack-a-mole, the rumor keeps popping up and getting beaten down by a wave of denials, dismissals and eye-rolling only to pop up somewhere else a few months down the road. If Matt Drudge didn't consider confirmation and research to be pass&eacute -- relics of the old media -- he might have realized his Apple-Disney "world exclusive" is as timely as a report on the troubles facing the Warren Harding administration or an exposé on this new technology called Tell-O-Vision.

But, as any urban legends expert will tell you, the truth never gets in the way of a good story... or of a good rumor. And Disney snapping up Apple and Pixar seems like a perfectly plausible idea on the surface. Disney and Pixar are already business partners! Apple and Disney both boast recognizable brands! Entertainment companies like Disney are looking to branch out into high-tech! Imagine Disney's marketing muscle behind Apple's products! And doesn't Steve Jobs bear an eerie resemblance to Cubby from the old Mickey Mouse Club?

Yes, it all makes sense. Until you realize the idea is completely nuts.

Sure, entertainment companies want to go wading into the tech pool. But they want to get into the content-delivery and infrastructure business, not the PC retail game. Disney is so unhappy with a pair of its non-core properties -- the Anaheim Angels and Mighty Ducks sports teams -- that it's looking to drop them. And the thought of turning over the Disney empire to Jobs, someone without an extensive background in Hollywood? That's enough to drive Walt out of his cryogenic chamber and back to the surface world to wreak a horrible vengeance.

But thanks to the Internet, old rumors never die; they just resurface on someone else's Web site. Widespread Internet access has given the world many wonderful things: instant access to information, a way to connect with far-away friends, family, and associates. But the Internet has also boosted our ability to send and receive malarkey to record levels. Or hasn't your e-mail in-box been stuffed with the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe, the medical alert that antiperspirants cause breast cancer, or the chain-letter request from that sick kid in Ohio?

Add the Apple-Disney merger to that bunch of blather. The rumored deal didn't go down in 1998, and it never happened last year. But hey... 2000's another year. Let's take the ol' Disney rumor out of mothballs and have ourselves another go-round.

Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The rumor-mongering game seems much more preferable to reporting the news, what with those meddlesome facts and that argle-bargle about accuracy. So here's the dirt I've dug up after hours of backbreaking reportage. My sources? A bottle of Bushmill's, a fertile imagination, and an insider close to Apple (the convenience store he works at is minutes away from downtown Cupertino).

Sure, these rumors may seem off the wall, maybe even a little unprofessional. But they have as much chance of panning out as a Disney-Apple merger. And when my rumors start popping up on message boards, remember you heard it hear first.

APPLE, PALM, SMITH CORONA TEAM UP!
The three companies are working together on an Apple-branded handheld typewriter. "Finally, a portable electric typewriter for people on the go," said a guy who may or may not work for all three firms. The Palm iType will feature Internet connectivity, a USB cable and a bottle of Liquid Paper.

EXCLUSIVE! GORE CONSIDERS JOBS FOR VP SLOT!
While the campaign officially denies it, sources close to Al Gore confirm that he may ask Apple's CEO to serve as his vice president. "Everyone who knows Steve Jobs knows what a team player he is," said a Jobs colleague.

HOLLYWOOD BOMBSHELL: GATES TO JOIN CAST OF 'FRIENDS'
Admitting that he's been bitten hard by the acting bug, sources in the immediate vicinity of Bill Gates say the billionaire will join the top-rated NBC sitcom this fall. "Gates will play the nerdy Friend," said a gaffer who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He'll play a guy who clashes with Ross when he gets romantic with Rachel."

DOUBLE-SECRET EXCLUSIVE! PHILIP MORRIS TO BUY APPLE!
A guy who didn't give his name left a message on my voice-mail saying the food and tobacco giant will buy Apple for $12 billion in cash and stock and several dozen boxes of Kraft Cheese & Macaroni. "Philip Morris is looking to get out of the tobacco business," the source said. "And what better way to diversify than to buy a computer company?" At next week's Macworld Expo, Apple will reportedly announce the giveaway of a free pack of smokes with the purchase of any G4.

AMAZON.COM TO ANNOUNCE PROFIT!
I'm sorry. These rumors have to at least be credible.

OS SHOCKER: WU TANG CLAN TAPPED TO RECORD OS X THEME SONG
Capitalizing on the popularity of rap music, Apple has signed up the mighty Wu Tang Clan to record a song extolling the virtues of its new operating system, Macworld has learned. "Yo, yo, yo!" CEO Steve Jobs reportedly said. "Give it up for OS X! Give it up for Carbon! Peace out."

EXCLUSIVE! MACWORLD, CAT FANCY TO MERGE!
The renamed Mac & Kitty World will feature tech coverage and advice, product reviews, and full-page photographs of kittens. "Anything's better than these tech rumors," said Macworld.com editor Jason Snell.

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