Stop the presses: 60-year-old Hillary Clinton has wrinkles.

The Democratic hopeful’s crinkly visage was stretched across the front of The Drudge Report yesterday, every frown furrow enhanced by a combination of bad light, freezing cold, fatigue and powdery foundation. In the kind of horror shot that would earn immediate deletion on any woman’s digital camera (see below), even the Senator’s chin has laugh lines.

And just when Hillary was learning to play nice with Drudge. The New York Times wrote in October that despite the fact that blogebrity Matt Drudge earnt national prominence as a nemesis of the Clintons who used to “peddle, gleefully, the latest news and rumor generated by the Monica Lewinsky scandal”, Clinton’s camp had actually begun leaking tidbits to him in a bid to dominate the news cycle.

“That people in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign orbit would tip off the Drudge Report to its fund-raising numbers is in part a reflection of her pragmatic approach to dealing with potential enemies, like Newt Gingrich or Rupert Murdoch,” wrote The NY Times. “But it also speaks to the enduring power of the Drudge Report, which mixes original reporting with links to newspaper, Internet or television reports far and wide.”

Part of the enduring appeal of Drudge is that he takes no prisoners, and he’s bitten the hand that was feeding him clear off its arm with the crows feet scoop.

Enter shock jock Rush Limbaugh to throw a bucketload of kerosene onto the non-story:

RUSH: … Now, it could well be that that’s a sympathy photo, too, to make people feel sorry for how tough the campaign trail is. Now, I want to preface this by saying I know it’s going to get out there. Media Matters is going to get hold of this and they’re going to take it all out of context. We can expect that. It’s a badge of honor when this happens, but for the rest of you, I want you to understand that I am talking about the evolution of American culture here, and not so much Mrs. Clinton.

It could be anybody, and it is really not very complicated. Americans are addicted to physical perfection, thanks to Hollywood and thanks to television…

…So the question is this: Will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?

Taken in its full context, “the message is not particularly controversial, but when the last line is snipped away and used by itself, his words comes across as s-xist,” says Brian Maloney on The Radio Equalizer.

Thus, the weighty subject of Hillary’s tissue-thin skin has hit The View, the papers, and every blog in town.

“…this is the most significant photo taken in the year 2007,” says Blog Immodest Proposals. “Think it will win a Pullitzer? Whichever photog snapped this photo effectively ended Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign…her image in that photo isn’t the image most Americans would want us to project as a nation. You don’t have to be wrinkle free to be president, but you can’t look haggard and bedraggled, either.”

“People age!” yells Wonkette. “Their bodies break down and they do so in hundreds of subtle and unexpected and unique ways (unless, like Cheney, you bathe in and drink the blood of infants, in which case you look like sh-t but it’s cool because you’re 200 years old).”

It’s a female thing, says law blogger Ann Althouse. “We make high demands on women. A picture like this of a male candidate would barely register. Fred Thompson always looks this bad, and people seem to think he’s handsome. We need to get used to older women and get over the feeling that when women look old they are properly marginalized as ‘old ladies.’ If women are to exercise great power, they will come into that power in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.”

But the aged affair could actually result in a bounce for Hillary, whose numbers have turned colder than the pure New Hampshire snow.

“Frankly, what was jarring about the Cold, Old and Tired photo is that it is the first time Mrs. Clinton looked authentic,” writes blogger Don Surber. The Volokh Conspiracy agrees, “I think it just makes her look more down-to-earth: Less carefully put together and more lived-in, an older professional woman on whom time has taken its toll — as it does on us all — but who has acquired the advantages of experience in exchange.”

So could this outpouring of empathy swing attention back to the New York Senator, and maybe even galvanise the female vote?

Hillary needs to do something to steal the limelight back, according to E.J. Dionne Jr in The Washington Post, “the Democratic contest in Iowa — and possibly the battle for the party’s presidential nomination — hangs on whether Hillary Clinton can use the next two weeks to encourage second thoughts about Barack Obama and get voters to take a second look at her. A month and a half ago, Clinton was widely seen as the inevitable victor. Now, she faces a moment of great peril.”

Clinton’s challenge?

Resist the botox, ignore the snipes and instead, “…keep doubts about Obama high in the minds of Iowa voters while finding the dash of inspiration that has so far eluded her campaign. Achieving both objectives at the same time will be the greatest challenge of her political life.”