"American Idol" (search) fans, to borrow a quotation from the great "24" character Habib Marwan, are waking up to a different world today.
On ABC's "Primetime Live" last night, season-two reject Clark made a convincing argument that an inappropriate relationship with Abdul did indeed occur while he was competing for a coveted top-12 spot on the program.
He showed the reporters phone records and clothes receipts to back up his story. Most explosive of all was his claim that Abdul gave him a tip to perform a Journey song — one that put Clark into the top 12.
The allegations could spell the end of Abdul's career on "Idol" and possibly throw a wrench into the competition itself.
Clark was dismissed from the show after TheSmokingGun.com released court documents that showed the Topeka, Kan., native had been arrested for assaulting his sister and resisting arrest, charges that were pleaded down to "obstructing legal process" and were never revealed to "Idol" producers.
This season, Idol's Scott Savol and Bo Bice were upfront about past run-ins with the law and have been allowed to stay in the competition.
In the song tip, Clark asserted that Abdul clued him in that fellow judge Randy Jackson had played bass for Steve Perry's band, and that by singing "Foolish Heart," he would win Jackson's support.
A flashback to that "American Idol" episode showed Jackson standing up, clapping and stating that he worked with Perry. Clark, during the "Idol" taping, plays dumb.
Last night, he said he was lying when he told Jackson "I didn't know that" after Jackson revealed his work with Journey.
Abdul, Clark says, had already told him. Wow.
When rumors started circulating about a sex scandal at "American Idol," I was quick to defend Abdul. After all, Clark has a CD and a possible memoir to sell, so I doubted his motives, and to be fair, I still do.
Publicity from "Primetime Live" will no doubt do much to help Clark's career. That being said, I have been a harsh critic of Abdul's judging, or lack thereof, all season long, calling her a waste of time on the program and a parrot (see The Real Deal on Abdul). However, I still defended her in my last column.
But it was the reaction of those seven "Idol" castaways who lost a spot in the top 12 to Clark, and Clark's own mother, that set me on a steadfast course against Abdul.
The seven were told on "Primetime" that someone they lost to was receiving clandestine help to get ahead in the competition, and they were crestfallen.
Patrick Forston, one of those castaways, said the news makes the "Idol" process pointless.
"They just need to go on the street and find the star that they want, if that was the case," Forston said. "There's no point to 'American Idol.'"
"He really loved her," Clark's mother said after reading the lyrics to "Paulatics," a song Clark wrote about the broken heart he suffered at the hands of an older woman who happened to also be a celebrity, and who might even have held the key to his own future in the music business.
"How dare she do that to a young man," she said.
How dare she indeed?
We haven't heard Paula's side of the story yet, and it's unclear if we ever will, or how producers of "American Idol" or FOX will react if the allegations prove true.
But in my Grrr! opinion, no matter how Abdul spins this, she's gotta go.
Looking on the bright side, at least next season I might not get carpal tunnel syndrome fast-forwarding my TiVo through all of Abdul's nonsense comments. If that's the case, I'll say thanks in advance to Clark.
What is it about sex that makes people throw away everything they have?
How many husbands and wives lose their homes, their children and their marriages for one quick roll in the sack?
How many celebrities who have worked so hard for their reputations so easily get embroiled in scandals that cost them millions and untold amounts of shame, and sometimes cost them their careers?
Yes, we're all human. But humans can also learn from others' mistakes. Sadly, we never do.
Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for FOXNews.com, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine."
"American Idol" airs on FOX, a property of News Corp. News Corp. is the parent company of FOX News Channel, which operates FOXNews.com.