With the presidential primary season opening today in Iowa, voters will begin deciding which charlatan, opportunist or sociopath – are we being too polite here? – will next occupy the White House. Alas, these are politicians we're talking about, which means they’re as trustworthy as guys selling miracle kitchen appliances on 3 a.m. infomercials. And that leaves some rather pressing questions…
Is Mike Huckabee a charming new breed of Republican, or a religious kook looking fondly toward Armageddon?
Is John Edwards a true populist, or a shameless lawyer with really fabulous hair?
Do Mitt Romney's split personalities – liberal Massachusetts Republican and redneck messiah – require an extra large wardrobe so both can remained dressed in case they’re late getting to the laundry?
And is Hillary Clinton actually human, or did she arrive on that spaceship Dennis Kucinich keeps talking about?
Thankfully, the good people at FactCheck.org
are here for you. The site, operated by the University of Pennsylvania, is home to an impressive staff of bullshit detectors who research whether the words coming out of a candidate’s mouth are true. And judging by their work, it appears that doesn’t happen often.
“The year 2007 wasn't a good one for political honesty,” the site announces. “Though not even technically an election year, it provided a bumper crop of falsehoods and distortions nonetheless.”
A summary of this year’s greatest hits
Republican Rudy Giuliani made false claims over and over about his record as mayor of New York, and even about England's health care system.
Democrat Bill Richardson also mangled the facts repeatedly, claiming credit for creating more jobs as New Mexico's governor than actually materialized and using a made-up figure about the performance of U.S. students, among other misstatements.
Republican Mitt Romney claimed undeserved credit for himself as governor of Massachusetts and made false or misleading claims about two of his rivals.
Democrat Hillary Clinton ran an ad claiming that National Guard and Reserve troops had no health insurance before she went to work, when in fact most of them did.
Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee repeatedly twisted the facts when talking about his record on taxes in Arkansas and other subjects. And there were plenty of other howlers from the large field of candidates.
It also includes answers to such pressing questions as "Do Catholic women get abortions more frequently than Protestant women?"
(Yes, according to one study.)
So if you’re looking for more than soundbites or the he-said she-said drone of the daily press, here’s a site offering one-stop shopping for the more discerning voter. – Pete Kotz