Liar’s Poker

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, we know, Thompson said he and The Rant were finished. Kaput. Gone with the wind and all that. But he’s said that before and we knew he’d be back. The only thing that will stop him is a wooden stake through the heart and we can’t do it. He’s the boss.)

Yep, the nation’s newspapers, the airwaves and even cyberspace are filled with talk about a Presidential candidate whom some say lied about his military experiences.

But which one?

Back in 1978, a candidate for Congress in West Texas distributed campaign literature said he “served in the Air Force” where he piloted the “F-102 aircraft.”

The candidate placed an ad with the claim in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. No one questioned his claim at the time but he lost the race and faded into relative obscurity.

Until more than two decades later when the former unsuccessful candidate for Congress managed to get himself elected governor of Texas and announced he planned to run for President of the United States.

An Associated Press reporter in Texas researched news clippings about the past activities of George W. Bush and came across the campaign ad. So the reporter asked Bush to explain.

“I think so, yes. I was in the Air Force for over 600 days,” Bush told the AP reporter. Confused because Bush’s statement did not jive with his Texas Air National Guard service, the reporter went to the governor’s chief political flak, Karen Hughes, who backed her boss’s revision of history:

“As an officer in the Air National Guard he was serving on active duty in the Air Force,” Hughes told the Associated Press.

Still confused, the reporter sought clarification from the Air Force which said Bush and Hughes apparently didn’t know the difference between Guard Service and active duty.

“Air National Guard members are considered ‘guardsmen on active duty’ while receiving pilot training. They are not, however, counted as members of the overall active-duty Air Force,” the public information office of the Air Force told the AP.

Furthermore, the AP reported, “Anyone in the Air National Guard is always considered a guardsmen and not a member of the active-duty Air Force, according to an Air Force spokeswoman in the Pentagon. A National Guard member may be called to active duty for pilot training or another temporary assignment and receive active-duty pay at the time, but they remain Guard members.”

Was the AP reporter confused? Not likely, says Capt. Cristin Lesperance of the Air Force Media Relations Office.

“If a member of the Air National Guard is in pilot training, they would remain on the Guard books. They would be counted as Guard, not as an active-duty Air Force member.”

That’s not the only lie Bush and Hughes told about the President’s so-called military service.

Bush said he flew planes for “600 days.” Hughes said he served 607 days in training and on alerts.

Yet to tally up 600 days of flying time during his 1968-73 tour with the Air Guard, Bush would have had to been flying every weekend of his guard duty plus the two weeks each summer and then some. But Bush failed to appear for a flight physical in the Spring of 1972 and lost his flight status.  Even if he had flown every weekend since flight school in 1968, plus every waking hour of his summer service, he could not have logged anywhere near 600 days of flight time.

And records of the Texas Air National Guard wing where Bush was stationed show the unit was only on alert status for a total of 29 days during that period.

So, yes, there are lies being told about military service in this campaign.

Some by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (an oxymoron is there ever was one).

Some by Senator Kerry.

And some by the President of the United States.

If honesty must be a qualification to lead this country (and it certainly should be), then the only logical choice is “None of the above.”