We know why Channel 3 hired Alycia Lane. It's because she's car-crack-up beautiful, a size 2, and the camera adores her.

All of which is fitting for her second career as a tabloid cover girl.

When defenders argue that someone is actually smart, you know that intelligence has little to do with the $700,000 salary.

It no longer matters if Lane is actually smart - smart people never require the "actually" business - because what she clearly lacks, and hasn't shown since her arrival in Philadelphia, is one iota of common sense.

Lane is famous for her bikini pics, 55 jackets in her closet, her boyfriends and breakups, inappropriate e-mails to married men, Dr. Phil confessions and, since last Sunday, her alleged shameful language and a felony charge for punching a New York City cop.

What Lane has not gained a reputation for is her reporting. She once text-messaged a print reporter during a break in the newscast.

To paraphrase Ruby Dee speaking to her drug-lord son in American Gangster, we know you've done all sorts of wrong things but you just don't hit a cop.

Then Lane phoned Gov. Rendell "to tell her side of the story," according to a spokesman. In journalism, this is worse than hitting a cop.

Reporters, even exquisitely lit television anchors, are supposed to cover politicians, not hit them up for assistance. If Channel 3 is truly in the practice of journalism, the managers shouldn't have a qualm about saving $700,000 next year.

Check the calendar. It's 2007 and local television still resembles a Trumpian world with middle-aged men holding onto their duchies for life yet an ever-changing America's Next Top Trophy Anchorwoman.

On WIP, the men are schlubs and Rhea Hughes is a blond babe many years their junior, though she knows and talks sports more than they do. And that's on radio.

In politics, people still comment on Hillary Clinton's pantsuits, her hair, her makeup, though nobody seems to notice Bill Richardson's heft or Mitt Romney's immobile hair. (OK, I just did.) Then people have the temerity to complain that Clinton is too smart, as if this were a bad thing.

There is no such thing as too smart.

When I finally landed a reporting position at a big-city paper, my grandmother turned to me and said, "That's all well and good, dear, but why couldn't you be on television like that nice Diane Sawyer person?"

Because nobody looks like Diane Sawyer, I told her, not even Katie Couric, and that's not for lack of trying.

Once, on a layover en route to a national political convention, I was stuck in a waiting area with almost a dozen anchorbots, all size 2, beauty-queen gorgeous and constantly primping, though no one was paying them much attention. They were only locally fabulously famous.

Lane, however, has put an end to that.

Now, she is nationally notorious.

She was hired for people to look at her. Channel 3, and other television stations that do the same, can't be shocked when those same women prove to be attention junkies off-camera as well.

Women were supposed to have gotten further by now, to be judged for their work, not primarily their looks, unless they're strippers or something.

Girls are hooked on America's Next Top Model, I'm sorry to report, the No. 1 show among young female viewers. Girls at Monday night's Hannah Montana concert were preening in blond wigs and sequins.

Alycia Lane has big problems. But the bigger one is why businesses keep hiring women because they're car-crack-up beautiful instead of smart and imbued with common sense.

Contact staff writer Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or kheller@phillynews.com.