Lying liars and pants afire

The only precedent being set by the upcoming appearance of Condoleezza Rice before the 9/11 commission is that of voluminous bullshit accompaniment. The Bush administration’s reluctant agreement to allow the good doctor to publicly testify will raise a lot of questions about the authenticity of her testimony, but in a trial which features aides giving “factual accounts” before each new speaker, it’s not who’s lying that needs to be scrutinized, but who’s doing it best. Honesty has never been a central ingredient of U.S. politics, but in a world of instant and generally conflicting information the ease of movement between fact and fiction is unsettling and occasionally disorienting.

A perfect example of this is the already overwhelmingly stilted presidential ad campaigns. Bush has already spent $40 million to drag candidate-to-be John Kerry through the mud. His messages, set to everything from grandiose and ominous “Star Wars”-esque orchestration or jaunty ragtime ditties, accuse Kerry of a variety of indiscretions – from a fictional plan to create a $90 billion budget deficit, to voting for a 50-cent gas tax he actually opposed. Bush can afford these little, white, televised lies thanks to a record setting campaign fund. And despite the question of their reliability, the damage the ads do to Kerry’s image is irreversible.

Kerry, in turn, has spent a measly $6 million denying Bush’s claims, while keeping his own attacks on Bush so vague that he can’t be accused of lying. Kerry has no need to personally attack Bush because he has his “unassociated” friends at and the Media Fund to do it for him. They can conveniently accept donations that exceed Kerry’s legal soft money limits, and say whatever they want, no matter how inflammatory, because Kerry has “nothing to do with it.” The goal of these organizations is to simply remove Bush from office, and if Kerry takes his place, why, that’s just a pleasant side effect.

This association is similar to that between conservative leaders and radio talk show hosts who have been accused of “deviously spreading lies” for years now. The system is simple: a high-ranking official “accidentally” leaks a piece of false information to a Web site, which in turn finds its way onto online forums, and then to the bloated conservative mouthpieces wallowing between mariachi bands and farm reports on AM radio. By the time the piece of misinformation makes it to the radio of your grandfather’s mid-eighties Town Car, it’s taken on a life of its own. Regardless of the reliability of the information, it is the truth to the general public, just another deceitful cog in the conservative conspiracy machine undermining all American’s freedom.

Sure this scheme might seem a little far-fetched, but I got my information from a very reliable liberal radio source. It’s the same ultra-paranoid source, in fact, that informed me of George Bush’s plans to render the entire male African American community infertile, and about how Prescott Bush, George’s grandfather, stole Geronimo’s skull as part of an initiation to a secret Yale society. And when pressed for its return, he presented the skull of a child in its place. According to my source, George W. does incantations over the skull every night to help him locate the hidden spring of Jeremiah, his latest attempt at achieving immortality, and his real reason for invading Iraq.

Everyone has an agenda, even nut jobs, and none of them are going to rest until they see it satisfied. Bush will lie about Kerry. Kerry will lie about Bush. Rice and Richard Clarke are both lying about 9/11. It’s a frustrating job, trying to sort through the details and figure out what’s really going on, and I can see why so many choose not to.

If my years of impotent political activism have taught me one thing, it’s that just picking a side and buying into their story, despite glaring evidence against it, is easier than mucking through all the bullshit.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you’re never going to get the whole story, so my advice to you is to give up, my friends. Subscribe to USA Today and enjoy yourself a pie-chart or two. The ones pulling the strings are going to do whatever they want anyhow, so why try to stop them? Thank you and goodnight.