Richard_Heene_20091017Yes, we should all be skeptical about checkbook journalism, and Gawker is right up front about having paid Robert Thomas, a former friend and would-be business associate of balloon dad Richard Heene (photo).

But if Thomas can be trusted, the picture he paints of Heene is devastating. Thomas portrays Heene as an increasingly paranoid, frantic man who believes shape-shifting reptiles are running the government and who would do anything to get on television.

The two had even talked about perpetrating a hoax with the balloon, Thomas claims, though getting one of the kids involved was supposedly not part of the original plan.

This story in the Denver Post only adds to the sense that it’s all about to fall apart.

Photo of Heene is from his MySpace profile.