WASHINGTON — An unnamed White House source last night vigorously denied leaking classified information about a CIA operative, sending the White House scrambling to identify the source of the leaked denial.

The unnamed source, who identified himself only as “Rarl Kove,” leaked a strongly worded denial of the previous leak in phone conversations with over 200 newspaper columnists across the country.

“We are not in the business of leaking information,” the unnamed source said. Ben Trimble, a political columnist for the Canton (Ohio) Star-Ledger, attempted to STAR-69 the call in order to identify the source of the leaked denial, but to no avail. “It wouldn’t disclose the phone number or the location,” Trimble said. “That kind of made me think it was Cheney.”

White House Scott McClellan said that the administration would launch a “full investigation” into the leaked denials. “If someone is out there denying leaks, that is very serious business,” McClellan said. “Denying leaks is my job.”

But moments after McClellan spoke, columnists received a new round of anonymous phone calls, this time denying that the White House had been the source of the earlier denials.

As the number of anonymous leaks from the White House mounts to a dozen or more a day, newspaper columnists are increasingly signing up for the federal “do not call” list to keep unnamed White House sources from bothering them at home. “The first couple of leaks I didn’t mind,” said the Star-Ledger’s Trimble. “But these guys keep calling me at dinnertime.”

Elsewhere, President Bush called the jailing of a New York Times reporter “a positive step,” but warned that many other reporters were still at large.

Andy Borowitz writes a daily humor column at borowitzreport.com