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In this crucial election year, with the nation's economic future hanging in the balance, it is more vital than ever that you, the American voters, be informed of recent developments concerning the Giant Mystery Zebra Mussel Brassiere.

As you no doubt recall, we recently reported that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was trying to determine the ownership of a very large brassiere that had been pulled out of Lake Ontario with a colony of zebra mussels clinging to it. Zebra mussels are a new environmental menace that is spreading around the country at an alarming rate, similar to law-school graduates except that they (the graduates) have no formal code of ethics.When we last reported on this story, the DEC had the Mystery Brassiere under observation, with no clue as to who the owner was, except that she'd never need a life preserver, if you get our drift.

Shortly after our report appeared, we received a letter from a Bob Isaacs of Tonawanda, N.Y., who claims that "the bra in question probably belongs to my friend Candy." Isaacs states that in the summer of 1989, he and Candy were in a small motorboat on the Erie Canal and Niagara River and,"to make a long story short, her brassiere found its way onto my head."

By way of supporting (ha ha!) evidence, Isaacs enclosed a color photograph that clearly shows him driving a small motorboat while wearing a brassiere the size of two regulation beach umbrellas on his head. As a taxpayer, you have to ask yourself why the U.S. Coast Guard is frittering away its resources guarding the coast when this kind of activity is taking place on our inland waterways.

Anyway, Isaacs states that eventually the brassiere was lost overboard, and he theorizes that it was carried downstream to Lake Ontario, where the zebra mussels, often referred to by marine biologists as "The Lingerie Perverts of the Deep," got hold of it.

Judging from the fact that his letter was neatly typed, we decided that Isaacs was a reliable journalism source, and we were willing to consider the Mystery Brassiere case solved. But just then, without warning, we received a flood of letters from alert readers drawing our attention to a new report inThe Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times written by Christopher Taylor, who has been covering this story like shrink wrap and who should, in our opinion, win a Pulitzer Prize in the prestigious Bivalve-Encrusted Undergarment Reporting category.

The story, headlined STRIPPER CLAIMS OWNERSHIP OF ZEBRA MUSSEL BRASSIERE, states that a striptease dancer named "Busty Heart," from Norway, Maine, claims that she recognized the Mystery Brassiere from a newspaper photograph.

"That's my bra," she is quoted as saying. She states that she wore it for an appearance last April at Lou's Cordial Lounge in Rochester, N.Y., where the bra was raffled off. "One man told me that he was going to put it on his boat as a sail, and it could have blown off," Heart points out.

We have here a photograph of Heart, and we will note for the record that the brassiere she is wearing, a size triple-M, makes the brassiere on Isaacs' head look like it belongs to Rainbow Brite.

So we called up Gerard C. LeTendre, who, as the supervisory aquatic biologist at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Cape Vincent Fisheries Research Station, is responsible for keeping an eye on the brassiere. He was aware of Heart's claim and in fact had seen a photograph of her.

"This is a big brassiere," he said, "but it would be a tight fit, getting her into it."

We told LeTendre about Isaac's letter, and he confirmed that it was biologically possible for Candy's brassiere to have drifted down into Lake Ontario.

"That's just as logical as anything else," he said.

So it looks as though the only way we're going to get to the bottom of this thing, as a nation, is to have the Senate Judiciary Committee hold live televised hearings, featuring probing cross-examinations of the various claimants by Sen. Ted Kennedy, and culminating in a dramatic courtroom-style re-enactment of the motorboat incident wherein the Mystery Brassiere is placed on the head of Sen. Orrin Hatch. Wouldn't that be great, voters?

Of course there could be problems. There is the danger that the mussels, upon exposure to the Washington humidity - which is actually denser than Lake Ontario - would escape from the bra and multiply like crazy, spreading into vital government agencies such as the Bureau of Unintelligible Prose, attaching themselves in overwhelming quantities to filing cabinets and duplicating machines and slower-moving federal employees. The entire government could grind to a halt until the Pentagon could gear up to move in there with Emergency Tactical Field Brassieres. It's a chance we're willing to take.