McCain and Palin's Top 20 Lies, Myths and Flip-Flops

Election '08

The corporate media won't say it and the Obama campaign isn't saying it enough, so we're saying it loud and clear: John McCain is a liar. And so is the woman he now shares the Republican ticket with. Yes, Sarah Palin is a liar, too. Together they are responsible for one of the most inaccurate and misleading presidential campaigns, in a business known for inaccuracy and misdirection. But even by the standards of American politics, the McCain-Palin ticket seems to be in a race with itself to set new standards of low.

This isn't opinion, this is fact. Time and time again, on the campaign trail, in press briefings and in interviews, McCain and Palin flip-flop on the issues, propagate myths they know to be false, and flat-out lie to the American people.

Unlike the McCain campaign, we have to back up our assertions, so here is a quick, short and cited list of the top 20 lies, myths and flip-flops that have come from the McCain/ Palin ticket so far.

1. The Myth: McCain and Palin claim to be agents of change.

The Truth: In a desperate attempt to revive McCain's "maverick" reputation, the McCain campaign is trying to co-opt Obama's slogan. But "change" is a tough act to pull off when your record almost exactly matches the current president's. According to a study cited by the Huffington Post, John McCain voted in keeping with the president's positions 100 percent of the time in 2008 and 95 percent in 2007.

2. The Lie: To burnish Palin's rep as a down-to-earth, no-nonsense fighter of government waste, the campaign keeps bringing up the state-owned jet Palin put on eBay. Today McCain stated: "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."

The Truth: As Politico points out, Palin did put the Alaska-owned plane on eBay. But she failed to sell it. Instead, the state had to go through a private broker to unload the jet and ended up losing money in the transaction. Or, the opposite of profit.

3. Flip-Flop: Offshore Drilling.
Original Position: In 1999, McCain made conservatives very unhappy by supporting a moratorium on offshore drilling.

Politically Expedient Position: McCain can't afford to make conservatives unhappy anymore; his campaign now depends on the rapturous love of a conservative base that is still suspicious of him from when he used to take intelligent positions. So he switched his position on offshore drilling. As Dana Milbank at the Washington Post writes, McCain recently argued that "those very same 'moratoria should be lifted' and proposed incentives for the states 'in the form of tangible financial rewards, if the states decide to lift those moratoriums.'"

4. The Lie: McCain and Palin have said up to 29 times and counting that Palin told Congress "'thanks but no thanks' on that Bridge to Nowhere."

The Truth:Palin strongly supported the Bridge to Nowhere and campaigned on the issue while running for governor of Alaska in 2006. It should also be noted that she never actually got the chance to tell Congress "no thanks," as Congress killed off the project, choosing instead to give a lump sum for all of Alaska's transportation projects, money that Palin gladly accepted.

5. The Lie: McCain keeps repeating, over and over and over again, that Obama's tax proposals will hurt the middle class.

The Truth: Obama's tax policy cuts taxes for people in the middle-income brackets, while his plan would increase taxes only for those with a family income above $250,000 and individuals who make more than $200,000. Not exactly the middle class.

6. The Lie: McCain falsely claims he received every award from every veterans organization.

The Truth: Despite saying it again and again, McCain is flat-out lying when he claims to have received the highest award from every veterans organization. As Think Progress reports:

He received a grade of D from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a 20 percent vote rating from the Disabled Veterans of America; Vietnam Veterans of America noted McCain had "voted against us" in 15 "key votes."
As for the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars -- with whom McCain claims to have a "perfect voting record" -- both groups vigorouslysupported Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va.) GI Bill that McCain tirelesslyopposed.
Given McCain's grades at the Naval Academy, maybe he thinks 20 percent approval is actually really good.

7. Flip-Flop: Immigration Reform.
Original Position: McCain was once a proponent of an immigration plan that would combine securing the borders with a temporary worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Politically Expedient Position: With his poll numbers dipping and under attack from Republican opponents during the primaries, McCain switched his position on immigration. As the AP reports, instead of supporting broad immigration reform, McCain's first and foremost priority now is to secure the borders. All that other, less important stuff, could come ... whenever. Stated McCain: "I got the message. ... We will secure the borders first and then go on to other issues."

8. The Lie: An attack ad (ironically called "Fact Check") by the McCain campaign claimed that, a nonpartisan election-accuracy watchdog, accused Obama of spreading misleading information about Sarah Palin.

The did not attribute Internet rumors about Palin to the Obama campaign. The organization was in fact debunking information about Palin spread online though anonymous e-mails and Web posts.

9. The Lie: The very same attack ad seems to purposefully misquote an article in the Wall Street Journal. The ad states that the Obama campaign sent a team to Alaska to "dig dirt on Governor Palin."

The Truth: The article actually stated they were sent to "dig into her record and background." Also, as it turns out, the article was wrong to begin with. Obama did not send a team to Alaska to dig into anything. What are the chances McCain will pull the ad and apologize?

10. The Lie: An attack ad by the McCain campaign says Obama is "against troop funding."
The Truth: According to, Obama has only voted against one war-funding bill, "after Bush vetoed a version that contained a date for withdrawal from Iraq."

11. The Myth: McCain echoed his wife's dubious claim that Alaska's proximity to Russia makes Palin qualified to tackle the complex foreign policy issues facing the next administration. When asked if Palin is up to the challenge of dealing with "an insurgent Russia," McCain responded, "... Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that."

The Truth: As Steve Benen, writing for CBS News, points out:
Palin has never been to Russia. She's never demonstrated any expertise on U.S. policy toward Russia. She doesn't have any background in international relations at any level. But for Republicans, the fact that she's lived in a state near Russia is somehow a qualification for national office. ... It's the dumbest argument I've ever heard.
12. The Lie: A McCain Web ad affixed the clever moniker "Dr. No" to Obama, claiming Obama says "no" to energy "innovation" and to "the electric car."

The Truth: In fact, according to, "Obama proposed a $150 billion program of research into a wide variety of clean-energy technologies last year." Also, Obama is not against the electric car. He's against McCain's ridiculous plan to award a $300 million prize to the person who fixes a glitch in electric car battery technology.

13. The Lie: McCain says that Obama wants kids to learn "about sex before learning how to read."

The Truth: McCain's attack ad "Education," in which he blatantly lies to try to make it look like Obama wants to educate kindergartners about sex, cites a bill that was a piece of legislation in the Illinois state senate. The bill was meant to add disease prevention to already standard Illinois state-approved sex-ed classes. That means, in cases of education in kindergarten, nothing more than child predator prevention. For McCain to exploit a bill that protects small children from deviant criminals in our society is disgusting.

14. The Lie: McCain claims Obama doesn't think Iran is a threat.

The Truth: In a misleading attack ad titled "Tiny," meant to make Obama look naive about foreign policy, McCain took an Obama quote out of context to make it look like he thinks Iran is a "tiny" threat. The ad does not note that Obama said Iran is "tiny" when compared to the threat that the Soviet Union once posed to the United States. Which, you know, when you think about all those nuclear warheads and that giant army, it is.

15. Flip-Flop: Windfall profits tax.

Original Position: McCain has said he would look into a windfall profits tax, a smart thing to do when gas prices are through the roof and oil companies are reporting record profits. While speaking in North Carolina on the campaign trail, McCain said:
I'd be glad to look not just at the windfall profits tax -- that's not what bothers me -- but we should look at any incentives that we are giving to people, that or industries or corporations that are distorting the market.
Politically Expedient Position: Of course, McCain was singing a different tune while talking with oil industry insiders in Texas, where he made fun of Obama's support of windfall profit taxes:
He wants a windfall profits tax on oil, to go along with the new taxes he also plans for coal and natural gas. If the plan sounds familiar, it's because that was President Jimmy Carter's big idea too -- and a lot of good it did us.
So which is the senator for? A tax that will help the people, or a favor for your buddies in big oil? We may never know.

16. The Lie: CBS's Katie Couric thinks Obama is using sexism against Palin.

The Truth: A misleading attack ad released by the McCain campaign titled "Lipstick" ends with CBS's Katie Couric saying: "One of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life." The ad implies that Couric is talking about the Obama campaign's treatment of Palin, but in reality the quote is from before Palin joined the McCain ticket; Couric was talking about Hillary Clinton. CBS was so upset over the dishonest way that Couric's quote was used that it forced the McCain campaign to take the ad down.

17. The Lie: McCain proposes that Obama is the cause of rising gas prices.

The Truth: This one is just absurd. There is no way that Obama is in any way responsible for rising gas prices, as McCain proposed in his attack ad, "Pump." In fact, McCain himself has said that the energy problems we face today were "thirty years in the making."

18. The Lie: Obama snubbed wounded troops in Germany because the press couldn't come with him.

The Truth: Andrea Mitchell of NBC, who was part of the press corps that toured with Obama, reacted when McCain's attack ad came out by saying: "That literally is not true. ... The point is that Obama had no intention of bringing any cameras with him -- I was there, I can vouch for that." Obama's reason for not making the visit: He was worried that it would be politicized. Before arriving in Germany, Obama had visited wounded troops while in Baghdad, without any press.

19. The Myth: McCain argues that Palin is a historic feminist pick.

The Truth: A woman has already been nominated to be a vice presidential candidate. The Democrats beat the republicans to the punch 24 years ago with Geraldine Ferraro.

That is much less important than the fact that Palin isn't a feminist pick at all. You can't be against so many feminist causes and be a pro-feminist pick. Now, capitulation for the far Right, that's probably closer to the truth.

20. Flip-Flop: Super POW John McCain Changes His Tune on Torture.

Original Position: McCain's original stance on waterboarding, straight up: "It is torture."

Politically Expedient Position: But when push came to shove, he voted against a bill that would have set an interrogation standard forbidding waterboarding no matter what. Sometimes even an ex-POW has to look tough. Luckily, the bill still passed. Unluckily, McCain's good buddy George W. Bush vetoed it.

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