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It's time for the yearly rumor: 'Idol' is fixed!

The New York Daily News has a source who's saying the fix is in on "American Idol." It's a juicy headline, but it's also one of those stories that comes up every single year, and that some people will always believe, while others will never buy into unless the judges are caught red-handed crossing out the vote totals or something.

Adam Lambert in the final four? That's hardly an unsafe bet.

The story itself is kind of awesome in its bravado. Not the bravado of the paper, but of the unnamed female "American Idol" staffer who's supposedly "running around telling anyone who'll listen that the team of producers and judges has already picked the final four contestants." (Now every female staffer on "Idol" looks like a big blabbermouth, hey, thanks, NY Daily News!)

The woman is supposedly claiming that the final four are -- wait for it -- Lil Rounds, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert and Alexis Grace. Wow, shocking. Three of those four would have been on just about anyone's list for the final four. (Alexis Grace is the only one who's iffy.)

Every single year, it seems, there's a list that circulates claiming to have the "Idol" winners. People love the idea that the show is fixed, especially when their favorite singer doesn't make it as far as he or she should. Because how else could My Favorite Singer get dumped? Surely I am correct in my musical judgment! THE FIX IS IN!

I think it's pretty well established that "Idol" has its favorites. Danny Gokey is a real person, who quite tragically lost his young wife, but to "Idol" this horrible loss is a plot hook, something they can hang a story on. So Gokey, and his past, get a lot of air time.

Adam Lambert resembles vampire Edward Cullen in the "Twilight" movie. Girls love Edward (have you seen the "Twilight" themed conversation hearts that say things like BITE ME and I (heart) E.C.?). Thus, Lambert also gets a ton of attention on the show.

Lil Rounds is a young mom of three who lost her home in a tornado. There are entire shows built up around people like this ("Extreme Home Makeover," anyone?). So she, too, has her perfect Hollywood story, and she too gets lots of airtime.

Yes, the three mentioned are also great singers. But it's the combination of voice + story that is making them such "Idol" airtime favorites. It's very likely one of them will win "Idol" without any manipulation whatsoever from the producers, other than the continued harping on their stories.

So why would "Idol" risk having their whole show exposed as a fraud by fixing it this early, when one of the people the show obviously likes best is likely to take home the crown anyway? The Daily News article quotes someone who says "there'd have to be so many people lying for them to pull something like this off."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "Idol" is pure as the driven snow. Some weird things have gone on behind the scenes of this show (Corey Clark, anyone?). But in this case, even if those four singers end up in the final four, I don't think it's because the judges manipulated things. They don't need to. Not this year.