The Newark Star-Ledger’s Kevin Manahan is the latest journalist to advocate the dubious conceit Lenny Dykstra is not a blithering idiot.

The cell phone rings.

“Dude,” Lenny Dykstra says. “Do I know you?”

We had arrived unnanounced at the Lenny Dykstra Car Wash looking for a rental car rinse and an interview with the former Mets postseason hero. A manager says Dykstra will call. When he does, he laughs.

“You’re Pearl Harboring me?’ he says. “Dude, I like that. It shows guts. Come up to my office. Just two rules, man: No questions about steroids or my partying days.”

When we enter the office, we realize Dykstra, now 43, has been watching us the whole time. From his paneled office, with the lights off and the wooden blinds opened only in slits, he watches it all, either from the large window that overlooks the final wipe-down area or on the television next to his desk. That screen is divided into 16 panels — 16 closed-circuit eyes on this location, his other car washes and his home.

“In the past, people have tried to take advantage of me,” he says. “Some have stolen from me. I’ve had business partners and family members stealing. I mean, what do you think, I won’t find out? Do they think I’m stupid?”

Workers have just installed granite floors in the detailing center. Dykstra likes them, but doesn’t like that the job is still unfinished. He gripes about that. He points at a small patch of brown grass at the base of a palm tree and orders it restored. Everywhere he goes, he spots something he doesn’t like and assigns an employee to fix it. Wipe this, Polish that. Pick that up.

When he thinks the wipe-down guys are slacking, the guy who always hustled calls Ricardo on the cell phone.

“They’re human Xanax,” he barks. “Get them hustling. They’re human sleeping pills. Look at ’em all, dude. They’re all dreary. It’s misery. Nothing is happening. No one is moving. We’re all falling asleep watching them.”