Yeah, it’s gossip, but (a) Silky Pony long ago forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to Rielle-related rumors, (b) it ain’t just gossip sites that have claimed a tape exists, and (c) assuming it’s true, it adds an almost pathological dimension to Edwards’ recklessness in messing around during the campaign. Running as the devoted husband of a sick wife while having an affair on the side is freaky enough, but he might have semi-rationally believed (before the pregnancy, at least) that if Hunter went public, he’d simply deny, deny, deny and skate. To actually put the, er, hard evidence on tape, though? Knowing that even if it didn’t come out until after he was elected, he’d be utterly, totally ruined?

There are two Americas, and both of them are well and truly creeped out.

The tape, say both our sources, is explicit and reveals that Edwards “is physically very striking, in a certain area. Everyone who sees it says ‘whoa’. She’s behind the camera at first.”…

“It [the tape] was kind of the last straw for people who had sacrificed savings and jobs to lie for John,” said one of our sources. “You should expect to see plenty more stories about him coming out of the woodwork when more people realize how… complicated… his motivations were.”

Up until he discovered the DVD, says one of our sources, Young’s devotion was typical of the “cultish” fervor Edwards brought out in his staffers. This is why, says our source, who is close to Hunter, major media organizations could not stand up the affair story despite well-intentioned efforts. “They [staffers] would do anything to stop it coming out — they lied, they bullied, they called reporters’ editors and bad-mouthed them, they exchanged access.”

Ben Smith of Politico also heard about the tape back in September and mentioned it as a footnote in his unbelievably creepy profile of the dysfunctional relationship between Edwards and Andrew Young:

And Young, with all the fury of a spurned lover, may be holding out yet another threat to his old idol, if it comes to that: an explicit videotape, two people who have seen it said, of Edwards and Hunter together.

“It’s his hole card,” said the source.

Young’s friends said they had no knowledge of the tape, which is reportedly described in his book proposal. But Young has not, to date, sold it.

Mediaite is skeptical, noting that the Gawker item is just a tad too coincidentally timed with the release of Young’s book. I’m skeptical too, but for a different reason: The most sensationally sordid details in “Game Change” all have to do with the Edwardses — read this, if you can stomach it — and yet, as far as I know, there’s not a whisper of any sort of tape. Heilemann and Halperin had no qualms about reprinting hearsay involving John’s and Elizabeth’s ferocious arguments, so presumably the fact that they themselves hadn’t seen any tape wouldn’t have stopped them from mentioning it if someone insisted it existed. And yet, nothing. Am I wrong about that, incidentally? I haven’t read the book but there’s not a single excerpt online that I can find referencing it. Verdict: Doubtful.