Paris Hilton is a skank, but that’s beside the point.

The Fox network recently aired a bonus episode of “The Simple Life,” the show where Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie go from place to place, humiliating others and, if they had any sense of shame, themselves. The promos for this broadcast called it “a lost episode” of the series, adding that it contained footage that “we weren’t allowed to show you.”

Now, the series just aired this past summer. How did they manage to lose an episode already? It’s not like it’s a show from the ’50s, and all the tapes were destroyed in a fire. It’s from June! Frankly, if it truly had gotten lost, I would consider that a blemish on Fox’s reputation, not something to brag about.

And it contains footage they “weren’t allowed” to show us the first time? I don’t know all the ins and outs of the television industry, but I’m pretty sure that whatever circumstances existed that would have prevented something from being aired four months ago still prevail today.

It’s all just hype, of course. No episodes were “lost,” and they’re not showing us anything now that they COULDN’T air during the summer. It’s the network’s way of trying to convince us that a half-hour of outtakes and leftover footage is something SPECIAL, rather than the time-filler it really is.

But I wonder: do they actually fool anyone with this? Are TV audiences that gullible? I suppose some people must be. The fact that “The Simple Life” aired in the first place is proof of that. But I’m heartened to see that the “lost” episode in question finished almost last in the ratings for its time slot. So maybe there’s hope after all.