For 22 years, Bill McClellan has stood up for the city's lost souls, cheered on the underdog and banged heads with governmental bureaucracies near and far. He may lack the iconoclastic sensibilities of a Jimmy Breslin or Mike Royko. Then again, he's not inclined to invoke Greek tragedy or resort to psychobabble, á la Maureen Dowd. Plain and simple, McClellan is a storyteller. With prose as spare as White House intelligence and in a soothing, rational voice, McClellan chronicles the foibles of the common man and delights in deciphering our daily Catch-22s -- all the while injecting subtle irony as he observes the human condition. Perhaps McClellan's most significant contribution as a columnist is his continuing exploration to understand how we relate to each other in terms of race. Emblematic of that ongoing discussion is a column he penned a couple of months ago. "I used sit next to Greg Freeman, who was as honorable and gentle as a person could be," it begins. "Sometimes when there would be news of a terrible crime, he would look at me and say, "I hope it's not a black guy.' I would nod sympathetically. I gave little thought to the fact that I never entertained the notion "I hope it's not a white guy.'"