I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But..., the breezy confessional of ''American Idol'''s nastiest judge -- part autobiography, part backstage gossip, part tutorial for Ruben wannabes -- is full of the winning, winking arrogance that made Cowell ''AI'''s main attraction. ''Idol'' addicts will revel in his relentless mockery of fellow judge Paula Abdul and blunt assessments of past contestants, but his glee in reminding us of forgotten losers just to trash them again can get off-puttingly sadistic. (Hey, anyone remember Jim Verraros? Well, he SUCKS!)
Cowell's lessons on the music biz do prove enlightening, albeit not in the way he intended: His myopic pursuit of the perfect ephemeral pop hit (and disdain for artistic credibility) leaves one with the nagging thought that Kazaa might not be entirely to blame for the industry's struggles.