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In the political season, it's important to check the facts before deciding how to check the ballot

“If it’s political season, why can’t we hunt them?” Okay, that joke’s supposed to be about ‘tourist season,’ but right about now, doesn’t it just seem to fit? I don’t know about you, but by the time October comes around in a big election year, I’m just about sick and tired of having to research every email, television commercial, debate, newspaper story and talk show comment to find out just how much—if any—of that information is true.

Back when I was growing up, and probably when you were, too, there were facts and opinions, and if you tried to pass the second off as the first you were called a liar. In some houses, you even got your mouth washed out with soap for doing that.

I guess that mouth-washing just doesn’t happen anymore, because not only are we daily treated to opinion disguised as fact, we also get facts that simply are not true.

And that happens on both sides of the party line.

Luckily, there are four websites out there designed to help the average voter check out the facts of the campaign information they’ve come across—factcheck.org, votesmart.org, politifact.com. and 2008election.com. Not that the average voter really seems to want to learn the truth, but I know people who read the River Journal are above average, so I offer these sources in hopes they’ll be used.

So how do the candidates score? Let’s check ‘em out—in alphabetical order—on just one of those sites.

Politifact says that Joe Biden has made seven true statements, four that are mostly true, six that are only half true, four that are barely true, four that are false and two that are “pants on fire” lies. Those include his statement that former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani is the “most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency,” and his statement that “the president is brain dead.” (I think that’s one of those opinions masquerading as a fact.)

Biden was judged for a flip flop on whether he wanted to be a vice-presidential candidate; however, back when he said ‘no,’ he did not, he qualified that by saying if asked to dit it, he would.

Biden’s attacks on McCain have been a mixed bag, half true and half only half true. He’s made one charge—on McCain’s support for tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas—that was only considered barely true.

John McCain has been more wordy than his running mate, and has racked up 25 true statements, 22 mostly true statements, 19 that are half true, another 22 that are barely true, 23 that are false and six that garnered the ‘pants on fire’ judgement as lies. Of those six lies, five were about Obama, saying he legislated sex ed for kindergartners, called Sarah Palin a pig, wants to increase government by 23 percent, opposes innovation, the electric car and nuclear energy, and that Obama wanted to bomb Pakistan. His final whopper was to compare the price of a “gas tax holiday” to the Bridge to Nowhere.

He’s also lied about his attempts to get earmarks for his state (he said he hasn’t, but that just ain’t so).

McCain has done half flips on whether the government should bail out AIG and on offshore drilling, and pulled a full out flip on President Bush’s tax cuts. After voting against them in 2001 and 2003, he became a supporter in 2006.

Sarah Palin has barely made any statements yet, though by the time you read this, hopefully that will have changed. With what little she has said, Politifact found that she’s made four true statements, one mostly true statement, four half-true statements and one barely true statement. She’s done a complete flip-flop since her nomination on whether or not she believes global warming is related to human activity and, of course, on the lauded Bridge to Nowhere. Her statement with regard to Obama’s intents regarding taxes is only half true.

Barack Obama has made 41 true statements and 24 that are mostly true. Only half true are 22 of his statements, while 14 are barely true. He’s made 18 false statements, and one “pants on fire” lie about McCain supporting Rush Limbaugh’s views on immigration.

Other false statements regarding McCain include the characterization of McCain’s support of a bipartisan energy bill, desire to ‘privatize’ social security, and said McCain believes we’ll be at war in Iraq for 100 years.

Obama has flip-flopped on use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and on public financing for his campaign, and done a half flip on offshore drilling.

So there you have it—four ways to check the facts on candidates before you vote. Please do so.

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Landon Otis

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