Despite the nasty ongoing divorce, KATE GOSSELIN’s secretly swearing to pals she “can see scenarios” that might reunite her with gibbering jerk JON GOSSELIN!

“Kate hopes for it more than you might think,” confided a family friend, who says Kate yearns for a gift even more precious than reality TV buck$$: Her sanity!

“Kate can’t imagine a life where she and Jon trade this brood of eight back and forth – nor would she allow any man who comes into her life to raise them. Truth is, Kate still loves the stupid lug.”

And despite siccing lawyers on Jon for financial indiscretions, “she doesn’t bash him when she talks privately. Kate only talks about how they got swept away in a tidal wave of attention and money-making.”

Here’s the shocker: Stupid Lug realizes he’s “made a colossal ass of himself and wants to do damage control.”

WALKER WARNING: Do NOT hold breath!