Threatening to rob The X Factor of the legitimacy it has enjoyed ever since she arrived, a two-stringed guitar and a wineskin of rotgut slung across her back, fascism-killing machine Britney Spears has announced that she's packing up and leaving the Fox show next season, just another cloud in her dusty wake. Conflicting explanations have been offered for her exit: The Hollywood Reporter believes she was more or less fired, flummoxed network executives no longer able to stomach the way her integrity exposed their own empty artifice through little more than a funny face. TMZ says she quit, y'all, claiming "her thing is music" and suggesting that she's preparing for a Las Vegas revue, where real music comes from.

That last assertion is seemingly backed up by the official statement from Spears, anyway, who says, "[Insincere acknowledgment of this being a difficult decision followed by obligatory platitudes about fellow judges and contestants] but it’s time for me to get back in the studio… I can’t wait to get back out there and do what I love most." And yet, still others say that what Britney Spears "loves most" is toiling on oil derricks to gather grist for her creative mill, and that she is even now setting sail for the Gulf, hoping to once more stab a pen through the heart of The Truth. One of these is probably the real story.