Now it’s clear why Charlie Sheen was scurrying around the past two days, giving interviews to everyone from Piers Morgan to Howard Stern: He was trying for some advance damage control for the scattered, ego-blasted sit-down he’d taped for ABC’s 20/20, shown on Tuesday night.

Sheen was interviewed by Andrea Canning, who deserves an Emmy for Best Straight Face While Keeping One Eye on the Exit Door. Whether talking about what he’d say to his children about his drug use (“Hey, kids, your dad’s a rock star… They’ll realize how cool Dad is!”) or speaking hymns to his “goddesses” — girlfriends Natalie Kenly and Rachel Oberlin, who does porn films under the name Bree Olsen — Sheen was a motormouthed fool, a blazingly intelligent idiot in trouble.

You may have already read the sound-bite manifestos Sheen uttered during this special — “I’m on a drug: It’s called Charliesheen!”; “I was banging seven-gram rocks and finishing them, because that’s how I roll” — but seeing them in context helped. Sheen may well have been, as he claimed and a test proved, clean and sober during the period of taping and since, but if so, he’s still been left with the desperate twitches of a thrill addict, totally self-absorbed and defensive.

Sheen bad-mouthed his father, Martin: “I don’t care if he’s my dad — back off with the judgment!” He scoffed when Canning quoted one member of his infamous Plaza Hotel party as saying she feared she might overdose: “That’s on her… If she does, I’m sorry.”

Goddesses Kenly and Oberlin spoke like zombies who’d strayed from another Charlie — Manson. “We all love Charlie,” said Kenly. “We all love and care about each other,” said Oberlin. “There’s not any partyin’ going on, we’re normal people,” she added, until Kenly interrupted to say, “Kind of…”

The it’d-be-funny-if-it-wasn’t-pathetic thing is, for all of Sheen’s sneering at “loser” recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, he blurts variations of AA ideas, such as “apologizing immediately when you’re wrong” and not dwelling on old sins and bad experiences. (“Aren’t you getting that I’m not interested in the past at all?” he asked Canning.)

Charlie Sheen’s recurring theme is that everybody except Charlie Sheen is a dullard — or, in his phrases, “sad trolls,” “boring,” “fools.”

“I was people-pleasing for too long,” he said. No worries about that now, Charlie!

The rest of the hour was a lot of intelligent-guy rambling that’s starting to lose its charm and humor through its unceasing cascade. “I’m a Vatican assassin warlock!” “Dying’s for fools.” “Can’t is the cancer of happen.” “My passion is not from this terrestrial realm.” “I blinked and I cured my brain; everybody has the power.”

It must be exhausting having to live with this nonstop, jokey pseudo-philosophizing; maybe that’s why the goddesses looked dazed.

Sheen’s solution to getting Two and a Half Men back in production? A lawsuit, an apology to exec producer-creator Chuck Lorre, and some kind of agreement: “Sit in a room and say, ‘We hate each other. Now let’s keep on making good television.'” Sounds like a plan, Charlie — or like three or four of them, which is typical of you.

In the evening’s best exchange, Canning said, “Your passion is coming off as erratic.” Sheen responded with what was the most poignant line of the night: “You borrow my brain for, like, five seconds and you’d be like, ‘Dude, can’t handle it — unplug this bastard!'”

I hope Sheen retains his health, “tiger blood and Adonis DNA” and all. I hope he continues those 5 a.m. exercise sessions. I hope he starts thinking about someone besides himself. And I hope he unplugs his brain and allows it to rest for a while.

How about you?

Twitter: @kentucker

Episode Recaps

Two and a Half Men | Monday, 8-8:30 p.m., CBS The warlock has left the building. With the spectacular, bridge-burning, jumping-down-?the-inflatable-?emergency-slide exit of Charlie Sheen from Two and a Half Men…

Two and a Half Men

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