Lies from the John McCain campaign

McCain’s lie about Obama’s Supreme Court vote

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

In the third presidential debate, John McCain said:

Sen. Obama voted against Justice Breyer and Justice Roberts on the grounds that they didn’t meet his ideological standards. That’s not the way we should judge these nominees. Elections have consequences. They should be judged on their qualifications. And so that’s what I will do.

Justice Stephen Breyer was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1994, 7 years before Barack Obama was in the Senate. McCain’s lying when he says Obama voted against Breyer’s confirmation.

Palin’s lie about the investigation into her ethics violations

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Sarah Palin has been under investigation for ethics violations regarding the termination of a senior staff member since prior to her nomination. The Alaska legislature released their findings on October 10, 2008. In response to to question around their report’s findings, Sarah Palin told the Anchorage Daily News on October 13, 2008:

I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any… any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that.

The legislation’s report stated in its summary:

Finding Number One

For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abuse her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.

Palin was found guilty of both legal and ethic violation. When she said she was cleared or wrongdoing, she was lying.

McCain’s lie about Lebanon

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

At the presidential debate on September 26, 2008, John McCain said:

Back in 1983, when I was a brand-new United States congressman, the one — the person I admired the most and still admire the most, Ronald Reagan, wanted to send Marines into Lebanon.

And I saw that, and I saw the situation, and I stood up, and I voted against that, because I was afraid that they couldn’t make peace in a place where 300 or 400 or several hundred Marines would make a difference. Tragically, I was right: Nearly 300 Marines lost their lives in the bombing of the barracks.

When McCain came to office, nearly 1800 Marines were already in Lebanon under a presidential order. President Reagan needed Congressional approval to keep the soldiers in Lebanon, and McCain voted against that approval. Shortly after the bill was signed into law (P.L. 98-119, Multinational Force in Lebanon Resolution) in October 2003, 220 Marines were killed in a suicide bombing. McCain did stand up to Reagan, but the bill was to keep the troops already in Lebanon there, not to send an additional hundreds of Marines. According to the Library of Congress:

President Reagan sent a force of Marines to Lebanon to participate in peacekeeping efforts in that country; while he did submit three reports to Congress under the Resolution, he did not cite Section 4(a)(1), and thus did not trigger the 60 day time limit. Over time the Marines came under increasing enemy fire and there were calls for withdrawal of U.S. forces. Congress, as part of a compromise with the President, passed Public Law 98-119 in October 1983 authorizing U.S. troops to remain in Lebanon for 18 months. This resolution was signed by the President, and was the first time a President had signed legislation invoking the War Powers Resolution.

While McCain is correct in saying that he stood up to Reagan, the president was acting unilaterally in sending the marines. The bill McCain voted against was to keep those soldiers in place. McCain’s lying when he claims to have voted against sending hundreds more. He’s exaggerating near the point of a lie how many Marines were killed in the bombing too — 220 is not “nearly 300″.

McCain’s makes up the make-up of Eisenhower’s pre-D-Day writings

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

At the presidential debate on September 26, 2008, John McCain said:

But there’s also the issue of responsibility. You’ve mentioned President Dwight David Eisenhower. President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.

According to the National Archives, Eisenhower wrote only one letter, which they possess the original copy of. According to the original copy, it reads:

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

While General Eisenhower did pen a letter accepting responsibility, he never penned a letter of resignation, and there is no record of a second letter of congratulations written on the same day. McCain lied when he said otherwise.

McCain’s 100% almost lie

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

In response to a reporter with the Des Moins Register who asked him about his misleading ads, McCain stated:

I have always had 100% absolute truth and that’s been my life of putting my country first

This grammar is confusing, and makes it impossible to accurately say what is meant by McCain. Politico assumes McCain means he has always “told” 100% truth. If this is the case, it of course is a lie proven by clicking the large McCain in the menu on the right.

Unclear, +0 lies.

McCain’s lie about US corporate taxes

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

During the first presidential debate between McCain and Obama on September 27, Senator McCain said:

Right now, the United States of American business pays the second-highest business taxes in the world, 35 percent. Ireland pays 11 percent.

Now, if you’re a business person, and you can locate any place in the world, then, obviously, if you go to the country where it’s 11 percent tax versus 35 percent, you’re going to be able to create jobs, increase your business, make more investment, et cetera.

In 2007, according to the IRS, corporate tax rates range from 15% to 39%. Companies with income above $18m fall in a bracket that pays 35%. But even assuming McCain was using the higher 39% bracket as his reference, despite citing the lower rate, there are a number of countries that have higher tax rates. Barbados has a 40% corporate tax rate, Guyana has a 45% corporate tax rate and India has a 40% corporate tax rate. (Those are just three examples.)

The Tax Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on tax plan analysis, does rank the US second in global taxes, but their figure limits the comparison to nations that belong to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group which only includes 30 countries. So McCain would have to ignore at least 162 countries from the UN to mean “the world” if he even used that oft-cited study as his reference point.

Additionally, Ireland’s lowest corporate tax rate is 12.5%, not 11%.

John McCain is lying, both in his ranking of the US as having the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, and about Ireland’s tax rate.

McCain’s lie about Admiral Mullen’s view about Obama’s Iraq Plan

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

During the first presidential debate between McCain and Obama on September 27:

MCCAIN: Admiral Mullen suggests that Senator Obama’s plan is dangerous for America.

OBAMA: That’s not the case.

MCCAIN: That’s what …

OBAMA: What he said was a precipitous…

MCCAIN: That’s what Admiral Mullen said.

Did Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say Obama’s plan for withdrawal from Iraq was dangerous for America? The basis for McCain’s assertion was this interview on July 20 by Fox News:

WALLACE: But I’m asking you in the absence — forget about Obama. Forget about the politics. If I were to say to you, “Let’s set a time line of getting all of our combat troops out within two years,” what do you think would be the consequences of setting that kind of a time line?

MULLEN: I think the consequences could be very dangerous in that regard. I’m convinced at this point in time that coming — making reductions based on conditions on the ground are very important.

We’ve been able to do that. We’ve reduced five brigades in the last several months. And again, if conditions continue to improve, I would look to be able to make recommendations to President Bush in the fall to continue those reductions.

The context for the Wallace / Mullen interview was about Iraq’s security, not America’s. The question regarded the risks a time line would cause to Iraq and the US military. But McCain isn’t initially quoting Mullen, just drawing an inference from this interview, well outside lie territory.

But McCain then McCain says Mullen actually said Obama’s plan was dangerous to America. In that new context, McCain’s statement doesn’t hold up. 

When asked about a time line for withdrawal, Mullen said a plan with a fixed time frame could have “very dangerous” consequences. But Wallace’s question explicitly asks Mullen to ignore Obama and answer in a non-political sense. So there’s no way, without Mullen making a direct reference to Obama, that McCain could claim this was a statement about Obama’s plan or the explicit danger to America.

It’s no lie for McCain to say Mullen suggested Obama’s plan was dangerous, but it is a lie to say Mullen outright said it. He didn’t.

(Note: Obama’s reference to “precipitous” refers to a distinct quote from Mullen, and therefore not a lie.)

McCain’s lie about Obama’s nuclear plans

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

During the first presidential debate between McCain and Obama on September 27, McCain said:

Senator Obama opposes both storing and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

But according to Obama’s energy plan, McCain is wrong:

In terms of waste storage, Barack Obama and Joe Biden do not believe that Yucca Mountain is a suitable site. They will lead federal efforts to look for safe, long?term disposal solutions based on objective, scientific analysis. In the meantime, they will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry?cask storage technology available.

McCain’s lying - Obama supports plans for the storage of nuclear waste.

McCain lies about his CEO’s lobbying firm’s activity

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

From a McCain interview with John Harwood for CNBC on September 23, 2008, regarding the wall street crisis (video here):

HARWOOD: You mentioned cronyism and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington, and you’ve criticized Obama for self dealing here. How do you square that with the fact that your campaign manager, Rick Davis, was involved in some lobbying activities on behalf of Fannie Mae? And secondly, what specifically would you prevent, would you outlaw–what activity would you outlaw in Wall Street to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

McCAIN: And my campaign manager has stopped that, has had nothing to do with it since, and I’ll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it.

McCAIN: [...]

In Washington, I still think that it was the special interest money that went–and Fannie and Freddie money that went, and everybody was involved in this–not everybody, but certainly Senator Obama got next amount of money, except for the two Democratic chairman. His vice presidential search team was headed by Mr. Johnson, and…

HARWOOD: And your campaign manager?

McCAIN: And my campaign manager has stopped that, has had nothing to do
with it since, and I’ll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who
wants to look at it.

The media has generally interpreted McCain’s point to be that Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign CEO, has been untouched by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac money since working for his campaign. But McCain wasn’t very specific about when Davis had stopped - only that he had stopped.

But according to a recent Roll Call article the lobbyist firm that Davis owns, Davis Manafort,  is still a lobbying firm employed by Freddie Mac. Davis himself is not a lobbyist, but as an owner he has financial interest in the firm and it’s activities.

McCain’s lying when he says his campaign’s CEO, Davis, “has stopped” any involvement with Freddie Mac. Regardless of whether McCain meant Davis stopped at the beginning of the campaign, or just any time in the past, the lobbying firm Davis owns continues to draw the same $15k / month it has commanded since “late 2005.”

Schmidt’s industrious lie about Obama’s lobbyist connections

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

According to Steve Schmidt, the McCain campaign’s senior campaign strategist:

[Joe Biden's] son is a lobbyist for the credit card and banking industry. The Obama campaign is surrounded by people who have worked in the lobbying industry.

Joe Biden has two sons, one of which (Robert Hunter Biden) is a registered lobbyist. (He announced he was immediately stopping all lobbying activities on September 13.) Lobbyists are required by federal law to disclose their clients. According to Hunter Biden’s records, he has never had a client in the credit card or banking industries.

Steve Schmidt is lying when he says that any Biden son is lobbying for the credit or banking industries, when neither is.

McCain caught in 2 car almost-lies

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

If someone says two mutually exclusive things, one of them must be untrue.

Back in 2007, McCain made some remarks referring to his daughter’s new Prius:

…when a College of Charleston student asks Mr. McCain, a 71-year-old Republican from Arizona, what he personally is doing to reduce greenhouse gases, he offers that he bought one of those eco-trendy cars for his 22-year-old daughter, Meghan.

“What’s it called, a Purr-ess? Pryuss? Peer-uss?”

“Prius,” someone calls out.

“Yeah, Py-russ,” the candidate clarifies.

“No, Prius.”

“O.K., Prius, Prius,” Mr. McCain says like a chastened schoolboy. “I ought to know the name of it; I paid for it.”

But American automakers are upset that McCain would buy a Japanese hybrid over an American alternative. McCain responded to a direct question on the issue:

“Actually, I think she bought it”

There has been lots of coverage on the reported flip-flop. We don’t have the records of who actually purchased the car, but one of these must be true and one must be a lie. According to the rules, if a lie is corrected, it is not counted against their tally. There is some wiggle room for McCain too: “i think” is a subjective term, and one of the two statements falls outside our window of tracking lies (before the conventions). For all these reasons, this will rest in the “almost lie” category.

Related, on September 7, 2008 McCain said to WXYZ,

I’ve bought american literally all my life and I’m proud.

Newsweek reports that he and Cindy have 13 cars registered in their name, and not all are American:

But the rest of his fleet is not all-American. There’s a 2005 Volkswagen convertible in the garage along with a 2001 Honda sedan…Cindy McCain’s name is on 11 vehicles, though not the one she actually drives. That car, a Lexus, is registered to her family’s beer-distributor business and is outfitted with personalized plates that read MS BUD.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger is pretty upset, along with many others in Detroit.

But is it a lie? The one car he does have registered in his name is a GM made 2004 Cadillac CTS. The others are in Cindy’s name. Therefore this could actually be true, and we’ll note it as an almost-lie.

tip via Jim

McCain campaign’s taxing lie about Obama’s energy plans

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

From McCain’s ad titled “Patriot”:

Obama and Biden voted to raise taxes on working American making just $42,000.

Higher taxes on seniors and their life savings.

Higher taxes on your electric bills.

There are two questionable statements here.

There is no call in Obama’s tax plan to tax life savings, but Obama does have a plan to raise capital gain taxes. The proposal would impact the tax rate on investment accounts, including 401(k) and 403(b) accounts. For families with incomes above $250k, their capital gain tax would raise from 15% to no more than 20%.

Do investment accounts count as “life savings?” We’d call this close, but not a definitive lie though it’s dubious at best to consider an investment, which bears inherent risk, as savings when savings implies no inherent risk.

But McCain’s reference to high electric bill taxes has no basis. They base their claim on an interview with the San Antonio Express-News on February 19, 2008:

GUERRA: Have you considered other funding sources, say taxing emerging energy forms, for example, say a penny per kilowatt hour on wind energy?

OBAMA: Well, that’s clean energy, and we want to drive down the cost of that, not raise it. We need to give them subsidies so they can start developing that. What we ought to tax is dirty energy, like coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas.

Obama suggested a tax on “dirty energy”, but did not call for any electricity tax. (Neither his formal energy plan or tax plan make reference of any tax for either energy production or consumption, though there is a call for a windfall profit tax which would include oil companies.)

McCain’s campaign is lying when they switch Obama’s conditional statement about taxing energy producers, as a call for taxes on electricity consumption.

McCain campaign’s lie about Obama’s advisers

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

From a John McCain’s ad titled “advice”:

“Obama has no background in economics. Who advises him? The Post says it’s Franklin Raines, for “advice on mortgage and housing policy.”

McCain’s source for the Raines reference is a Washington Post profile of Raines that said:

He has shaved eight points off his golf handicap, taken a corner office in Steve Case’s D.C. conglomeration of finance, entertainment and health-care companies and more recently, taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.

But Raines is not a present adviser. In fact, he advised the McCain camp days before they ran the ad that he was not an adviser.

“Carly: Is this true?” Raines asks above a forwarded note informing him that Fiorina was on television saying he was an Obama housing adviser. “I am not an adviser to the Obama campaign. Frank.”

While he may have given advice to the Obama campaign (though even that is disputed and being clarified), McCain’s campaign is lying when they say Raines is presently an adviser to the Obama campaign. He’s not.

John McCain’s lie about Obama’s free trade stance

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

During a September 15, 2008 interview Jorge Ramos for Univision, John McCain said:

“So, the point is, I’m for free trade and opening these markets, and improving the lives of the people of Mexico and our hemisphere, so they don’t have to come to the United States of America. Senator Obama wants to close those markets, he is against every, literally every free trade agreement.”

On June 26, 2006 Senator Obama voted for the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement

On May 23, 2008 in Miami Obama said:

“Like Central America’s bishops, I opposed CAFTA [the Central American Free Trade Agreement] because the needs of workers were not adequately addressed. I supported the Peru Free Trade Agreement because there were binding labor and environmental provisions. That’s the kind of trade we need – trade that lifts up workers, not just a corporate bottom line.”

We don’t dispute that Obama’s support of “free trade” is very different than McCain’s, but Senator McCain’s assertion that Obama is literally against every free trade agreement is clearly a lie.

McCain literally lies about Obama’s literal tenure

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

On September 16 at a rally in Tampa, John McCain said:

My friends, earmarking and the pork-barreling goes on - it’s gonna stop. 

I have never asked for a single earmark pork-barrel project for my state of Arizona. Senator Obama, has asked for $932 million in earmarks, literally $1 million for every day that he’s been in office.

Obama took office January 4, 2005. As of today, he’s been in office 1352 days, during which congress did business 892 days (including 268 non-legislative-period days). This according to the Library of Congress’ calendar for 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005 (a tabulated count of in-session days is here). That would mean Obama requested either $1352m, $892m or $624m, none of which are the $932 figure he did actually request. 

As for McCain other unequivicable statement - that he “never asked for a single earmark pork-barrel project for my state of Arizona”. Because McCain said “pork-barrel”, which is a subjective term, there’s no definite lie.

McCain didn’t have to say “literally”, which offers literally no wiggle room. But he did, thus McCain is literally lying when he tells us that Obama has asked for literally $1 million a day.

McCain’s energetic lie about Obama’s energy plans

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

On September 16 at a rally in Tampa, John McCain said:

“We need to achieve energy independence And my friends, it’s all of the above. It’s wind and tide and solar and natural gas and automobiles with flex fuel and hydrogen and batteries. And my friends, it also means nuclear power and drill offshore. My opponent opposes nuclear power and he opposes drilling offshore. And my friends you can’t get there from here. And my friends, it also means nuclear power and drill offshore.”

Obama’s formal policy could be interpreted to state he’s against expanding nuclear, but he isn’t against it. According to Barack Obama’s energy plan:

“Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our noncarbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option. However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation.”

As we noted before in Palin’s false claim Obama was against energy production, Obama offers conditional support for offshore drilling:

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post during a tour of Florida.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,” Obama told the newspaper.

Palin’s lie about Alaska’s energy production runs on hot air

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

From Sarah Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson on ABC:

Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that’s with the energy independence that I’ve been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.

According to the Energy Information Agency, whose slogan is “Official Energy Statistics from the US Government”, Alaska produced 2417.1 trillion BTUs of energy in 2005, the most recent survey of gross production. That year the entire production of the United States was 69, 381.4 trillion BTUs. That means Alaska produced 3.5% in the last government estimate.

The government released an oil production estimate in April 2008, but that still only cited Alaska as producing 12.8%.

Does Alaska produce nearly 20% of the domestic supply of energy? No, and Palin’s lie to the contrary is nothing but fumes.

McCain’s deceiving about Palin’s earmark requesting and receiving

Friday, September 12th, 2008

From an interview of John McCain on the View:

Behar: What is [Palin] going to reform specifically, Senator?

McCain: Well, first of all, earmark spending which she vetoed a half a billion dollars worth in the state of Alasksa.

Behar: She also took some earmarks [muffled].McCain: No, not as governor she didn’t.

From the Alaska Daily News on December 10, 2007:

The Palin administration, citing a need to improve the state’s credibility, plans to ask Alaska’s congressional delegation for far fewer earmarks in the coming year.

“We really want to skinny it down,” said Karen Rehfeld, Gov. Sarah Palin’s budget chief.

Rehfeld recently wrote a memo to all state commissioners telling them that to “enhance the state’s credibility,” federal earmark requests for money should be only for the most compelling needs.

Rehfeld said she believes the state government annually made more than 100 earmark requests of the congressional delegation in previous years. She said the request for this year, the first under Palin, was for more than 50 earmarks.

From the LA Times:

But under her leadership, the state of Alaska has requested 31 earmarks worth $197.8 million in next year’s federal budget, according to the website of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

You can view Alaska’s 2008 earmarks at the Office of Management and Budget’s listing of earmarks in 2008 Appropriations Bills.

Palin’s bridge lie (and the unabridged truth)

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Sarah Palin said at the RNC on September 4, 2008:

I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.

This is a simple lie, that requires a bit of a complicated explanation. For a summary, click here to skip to the end.

The “Bridge to Nowhere” Palin referred to is either one of two bridges set to receive a series of earmarks designating $327 million. Both bridges connect sparsely populated islands with mainland Alaska. The earmarks were a part of a public law 109-59 signed into effect August 10, 2005 (see the earmarks here: search for “Knik” or “Gravina”). Subsequent legislation stripped the earmarks, though the funds remained allocated to Alaskan hands for use on relevant transportation projects. From the public law 109-3058 (section 186):

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any amounts made available pursuant to Public Law 109-59 for the Gravina Island bridge and the Knik Arm bridge shall be made available to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for any purpose eligible under section 133(b) of title 23, United States CodeProvided, That in allocating funds for the equity bonus program under section 105 of such title, the Secretary shall make the calculations required under that section as if this section had not been enacted:

Provided further, That the descriptions for High Priority Projects #406, the Gravina Island bridge, and #2465, the Knik Arm bridge, in section 1702 of Public Law 109-59 are hereby deleted and in their place is inserted ‘the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’.

On November 30, 2005 President Bush signed the 109-3058 into law. At that point, the earmarks were gone and the funds designated for the bridge were generally released to Alaska for general transportation use.

On October 22, 2006, during her campaign for governor, Palin was asked:

Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?

Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now - while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.

When Sarah Palin took office December 4, 2006 the once-earmarked “Bridge to Nowhere” funds were still designated to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Alaska could use the $327 million without restriction.

On September 21. 2007, Palin cancelled the Ketchikan bridge project, which is the bridge project most frequently referred to as the bridge to nowhere. From the office of the governor of Alaska [pdf]:

Governor Sarah Palin today directed the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to look for the most fiscally responsible alternative for access to the Ketchikan airport and Gravina Island instead of proceeding any further with the proposed $398 million bridge.

Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island…

At that point the one of the two bridges called a “Bridge to Nowhere” was killed. The funds still remained allocated to Alaska, per US law, but with her executive order the state plan to build the bridge was ended. There is no record of Palin returning the $327 million that had been once designated through earmark in whole or part to the federal government.

The other bridge spanned the Knik Arm is still in the works. You can read their August 2008 newsletter for updates on the project. They are still in the planning phase for the actual bridge and the:

Mat-Su Borough begins $13 million worth of construction on the Point MacKenzie Road section of the project.

So one of the two “Bridges to Nowhere” is dead, and the other (less commonly referred to as a “bridge to nowhere”, but still historically bearing that title as evidenced here) is proceeding.

So to summarize:

On 8/10/2005 earmarks were included in a signed law dedicating $327 million to build two bridges in Alaska. On 11/30/2005 another law was signed, stripping those earmarks but preserving the funds for Alaska. On 9/21/2007, nearly 2 years after the earmarks had been removed, Palin closed the project down.

Palin could not have told Congress “Thanks, but no thanks” because Congress had already removed the earmarks before she was elected as governor. Given the money was already allocated to the state when she came to office, there’s no reason to think she would ever communicate with Congress on this matter in a formal capacity. In fact, the only government entity she told to cancel the project was Alaska’s own Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. And the state kept every penny of the $327 million.

It’s a complicated story, but Sarah Palin told an uncomplicated lie.

Update: This was unintentionally posted twice. That’s been corrected. Thanks for the catch.

McCain’s campaign to detention for lying in their ‘education’ ad

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

From a John McCain ad titled “Education”:

Obama’s one accomplishment?
Legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergarteners.
Learning about sex before learning to read?
Barack Obama.
Wrong on education. Wrong for your family. 

There are 3 2 lies at work here.

First, Obama’s list of accomplishments is indisputably greater that 1, as the ad contends. Winning the nomination for the Democratic ticket would certainly count, as would his legislative successes (most commonly cited examples accomplishments here and here) in the Senate. Though the ad was titled “education” we missed the now-obvious link between “one accomplishment” and education. Obama’s campaign has proffered a list of the Illinois senator’s education-related achievements, but the McCain campaign’s ad could argue that “accomplishment” is a title Obama’s education-related work doesn’t deserve. As a subjective statement, it’s neither objectively true or untrue.

Secondly Firstly, Obama was not a sponsor of the bill. The bill’s record, including it’s sponsors, is available here. It’s very gracious, but false, to give credit to someone for a bill they neither authored nor sponsored.

Thirdly Secondly, the bill did not pass. It was not Obama’s accomplishment, because he didn’t sponsor the bill. But it wasn’t anyone’s accomplishment because the bill did not pass at all.

McCain’s claim that Obama wanted to teach kids about sex before reading is even questionable, though we wouldn’t call it a lie. When Obama was asked on this issue in 2004 in a debate with Alan Keyes, Obama said:

We have a existing law that mandates sex education in the schools. We want to make sure that it’s medically accurate and age-appropriate.Now, I’ll give you an example, because I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old daughter, and one of the things my wife and I talked to our daughter about is the possibility of somebody touching them inappropriately, and what that might mean. 

And that was included specifically in the law, so that kindergarteners are able to exercise some possible protection against abuse, because I have family members as well as friends who suffered abuse at that age. So, that’s the kind of stuff that I was talking about in that piece of legislation.

McCain’s camp should head to detention for those three two lies. Calling an unpassed bill from the state senate in Illinois that Obama didn’t write his only accomplishment is untrue.

Update: We are tracking lies through refutable statements, thus any number of lies wrapped into a single instance qualifies as one lie, for now. Should this practice become commonplace, we may adjust the rules to reflect the fairest lie tallies. is wearing a liar’s lipstick

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

The official McCcain campaign released a remarkably misleading video this week. The text “Barack Obama on: Sarah Palin” appears, then is followed by the following quote from Obama:

You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.

Full Video (NOTE: The original video has been taken down, but here’s a mirror)

The full quote of Obama’s text is:

“John McCain says he’s about change too, so I guess his angle is, “Watch Out, George Bush. Except for economic policy, healthcare policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove style politics, we’re really going to shake things up in washington. That’s not change. That’s just calling something the same thing something different. But you know you cant, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig”

Full video

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic expands that both Obama and John Mccain are fond of this phrase. Mccain in 2007 on Hillary Clinton:

McCain criticized Democratic contenders for offering what he called costly universal health-care proposals that require too much government regulation. While he said he had not studied Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s plan, he said it was “eerily reminiscent” of the failed plan she offered as first lady in the 1990s.

“I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig,” he said of her proposal.

So the McCain campaign took a knock Obama used against McCain, lifted a phrase from it, and then lied about it’s context. Obama said the words, no one is disputing that. But the clear and overwhelming lie was manipulating Obama’s statement about McCain into a sexist comment about Palin. Clearly +1 for the red camp.

Update: Obama’s Response

Giuliani gives wings to an oft-perpetuated lie

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Disputed Definition - +0 Lies

Rudy Giuliani at the RNC:

And being a “Top Gun” kind of guy, he became a fighter pilot.

According to

McCain was a bomber pilot, and he himself makes this clear on page 173 of his book “Faith of my Fathers”: “I trained exclusively in the A-4 Skyhawk, the small bomber that I would soon fly in combat missions.”

Giuliani went on auto-pilot, repeating this lie told repeatedly over the life of the campaign by various surrogates and journalists.

Update: To be clear, one of our editors remains convinced this is a lie repeated not just by Giuliani, but also by sources like the New York Times. While there seems ample evidence that ‘fighter pilots’ and ‘bomber pilots’ are distinct job in the military, and that John McCain’s job was a ‘bomber pilot’, there appears to be enormous public confusion on the dwindling distinction between those jobs. Therefore, we are removing the point attributed to this entry.

McCain hopes we’ll buy this lie, even if an Ebay buyer didn’t really buy that plane

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

According to John McCain, on the trail in Wisconsin:

You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — made a profit.

In fact, the luxury jet was sold through a private broker for a $500k loss. According to the Anchorage Daily News’ story from August 20, 2007:

The state paid about $2.6 million for the jet — about half a million more than Reynolds would pay.

Though there are technically two lies, since the plane neither sold on Ebay or was sold for a profit, we’ll consider this a two-for-one special.

Palin’s public lie about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s private status

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Room for subjective, indirect meaning - +0 Lies

From a speech Sarah Palin gave in Colorado Springs:

[Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have] gotten too big and too expensive to taxpayers. The McCain-Palin administration will make them smaller and smarter and more effective for homeowners who need help.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private enterprises publicly traded on the NYSE. Though chartered by the government, since going fully private decades ago they have held no direct costs to taxpayers.

From Fannie Mae’s website:

In 1968, Fannie Mae was re-chartered by Congress as a shareholder-owned company, funded solely with private capital raised from investors on Wall Street and around the world.

From Freddie Mac’s website:

In fact, Freddie Mac is one of the nation’s largest federal taxpayers. Freddie Mac is owned by its shareholders and, like other corporations, is accountable to its shareholders and a board of directors.

There you have it. About the only thing public here is the setting for Palin’s lie.

Editor’s note: it could be argued that this was a misspeak on her part. If she comes out and corrects it, we will reconsider this as a lie.

Update: It has been pointed out that though Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private companies, therefore bearing no direct financial costs to taxpayers, Palin’s statement could be a reference to indirect costs. In that sense, you could reasonably infer any private enterprise or citizen is “too expensive to taxpayers”. We’ve removed the point and adjusted the score according.

Lieberman not honest about Obama’s legislative past?

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Subjective Statement: +0 Lies.

Should we start pronouncing his name Lie-berman after this truth bender at the RNC?

In the Senate, during the three-and-a-half years that Senator Obama has been a member, he has not reached across party lines to get accomplished anything significant.

Obama helped draft legislation on nuclear arms proliferation, ethics reform, and more:


Obama and Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, for instance, teamed up on an initiative to lock down and secure both nuclear and conventional weapons worldwide, such as the shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles that have been proliferating in recent years….Another example: Obama worked with Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, to write the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which created a searchable database the public can use to look up details on federal grants and contracts. (McCain was also among the original co-sponsors of that bill, so Lieberman may have been tarring his own candidate when he disparaged Obama’s legislative accomplishments). Obama and Coburn also got together on a bill to prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from issuing open-ended, no-bid contracts for emergency response activities after abuses were found in post-Katrina contracting.

But since “significant” is a subjective term, we cannot deem this an official lie. It could be argued that not all of these passed, and the ones that did were not groundbreaking. But we’re keeping an eye on you, Lieberman…

Huckabee’s take on Biden’s vote tally doesn’t add up

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Mike Huckabee said at the RNC:

[Palin] got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.

It’s hard to count a way this isn’t an atrocious lie. According to Wasilla public records, Sarah Palin received 1560 votes in her two successful mayoral campaigns. Biden received 79,754 votes in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

It’s of note that Huckabee formerly governed Arkansas, which ranks 43rd in the nation for 8th graders proficient in math.

Palin produces lie about Obama’s energy plan

Monday, September 8th, 2008

From Sarah Palin’s speech at the RNC:

America needs more energy; our opponent is against producing it. 

According to Obama’s website, his plan specifically calls for continued energy production through renewable sources. Obama’s also stated a willingness to pursue off-shore drilling

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post during a tour of Florida.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,” Obama told the newspaper.

Obama may not agree with McCain’s energy plans, but it’s hard to consider explicit plans for increased energy production a plan “against producing” energy.

Palin’s doubling the number of memoirs to Obama’s credit

Monday, September 8th, 2008

From Sarah Palin at the RNC:

But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or even a reform, not even in the state Senate.

Barack Obama’s book Dreams from My Father is his one and only memoir. His other bestseller, The Audacity of Hope, is a a cross between a manifesto and a political treatise. Perhaps she was confusing Obama for this politician with two memoirs to his credit.

McCain’s financial reckoning a wreck

Sunday, September 7th, 2008


McCain said oil imports send “$700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much.” But the U.S. is on track to import a total of only $536 billion worth of oil at current prices, and close to a third of that comes from Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Sure McCain’s only 25% wrong on his estimation at a most generous count. But given he’s managing to insult some of our closet allies at the same time, this is an especially notable falsehood.

Guliani’s deceptive about Obama’s Russia/Georgia response

Friday, September 5th, 2008

According to Rudy Guliani from the RNC:

Later, after discussing [Russia and Georgia's conflict] with his 300 foreign-policy advisers, [Obama] changed his position and suggested that the U.N. Security Council could find a solution. Apparently, none of his 300 advisers told him that Russia has a veto on any U.N. action.

Guliani must have a unique metric for what a changed position looks like. Obama’s first statement after the conflict began was:

All sides should enter into direct talks on behalf of stability in Georgia, and the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should fully support a peaceful resolution to this crisis.

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