Freedom from the Simpsons, a hit record, overwhelming sympathy, and now one of the hottest girls on the block? Well, well, well…it looks like Team Lachey"s strategy is paying off in spades. Or brunettes. Sorry, lame joke. But still. How can you deny the brilliance of his campaign? While Jessica has been universally ridiculed since their "public" split 6 months ago, Nick has emerged virtually unscathed. In fact, more than unscathed! Nick Lachey is making money AND rockin" the single life AND people are happy for him. Can you imagine how pissed Papa Joe must be? That, in itself, is worthy of celebration. So here"s Nick with his latest conquest - the 2nd time around - on a quicky vacay in Mexico. As first reported by Perez on Sunday night Nick and Vanessa hooked up in Atlantic City over the weekend and apparently haven"t been apart since. For those of you unfamiliar with Ms Minnillo (I don"t care enough to spell check), trust me when I tell you she is a major score. For Nick Lachey, I mean. Vanessa is an MTV girl. Some kind of former beauty queen. VERY attractive. In a gossamer bombshell, sexpot brunette, sweet smile and perfect teeth kind of way, upper b-list, well known enough but not quite worthy of car accidents and aggressive pappies and 24 hour surveillance. She also used to date (as in 2 weeks ago) Derek Jeter - someone I"d like to get my smutty hands on as well. Oops. Digressing again. The point is - this an ideal match for Nick. Because she"s not more famous than he is but she"s also hot enough to qualify as a boastful coup, and together their collective star power provides adequate titillation to distract us during those slow gossip days until Nicole Kidman does or does not marry that thin-lipped metrosexual cowboy later on this month. Besides, knowing that Jessie is probably binge eating her way to China as a result of these photos is its own reward. Amazing how spreading your legs in a trailer for Jackass can have such lasting and devastating effects, non? Thanks to my girl LS for the pics!