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Lies & Others 

The old cauldron-tender we called Mimmy was given to outlandish allegations, but if you challenged her on any of them, she'd take offense: "Well, I guess I'm just a damn liar, then," she'd huff. And you'd best not agree with her about that — because then she'd really take offense.

It's how liars get away with it. They make it your fault.

A poll last week showed that a large number of you morons believe the president is some other religion besides Christian. Muslim, Hindoo, Wiccan or some such. One of those Others that are tolerated here, sometimes.

That's a lie about the president, of course, acknowledged as such by just about everyone in the lie-acknowledgment business. So how, the Associated Press wondered, could a known lie gain such currency — so many subscribers? Are there that many dupes and wannabe dupes out there?

Well, yes, there are. But that's not the whole story here. Lots of people who don't believe a lie about someone they dislike will say they believe it just in the hope of influencing hanging-back nitwits to join their liar ranks. The Clinton impeachment was based on this strategy. Whatever's required to "take our country back" — lies, truthiness, coup-plotting, pitchforks, grease. The right combination will find itself or it won't. The plan will come together or it won't.

Another part of the renascent lying liars story is this: people like believing lies. One reason we like it is because it can contribute to our self-confidence. We hear the lie and say to ourselves, "Yeah,  that's just about how I had it figured."  Then we can give ourselves credit as shrewd, prescient rascals, hard to fool. And if the lie is too prominently unmasked that we can't pretend to have been asleep or on vacation or in the crapper, we can say, "Well, OK, it's a lie, what difference does that make?"

Another reason we like believing that we believe lies that we really don't is that they are generally more interesting than the truth. Nobody wants to go to the trouble of making up and spreading a dull lie. If it's going to be dull, you might as well just go ahead and tell the truth — and give yourself some self-esteem-boosting credit for that. If it's a dull lie, you run the risk of liar's guilt or liar's remorse for having indulged or propagated it, or if you're beyond the reach of such common decencies, you still might suffer self-reproof for having squandered your lie capital on such a dud. A lurid, dripping whopper wouldn't have cost you a penny more.

Lies are more festive, more entertaining because there aren't burdensome limitations on them. Since the basic part is just made up, you might as well sensationalize the rest of it. Plus, the dull lie won't lure feebs; you need the bolder lie for that, psychedelic if you can make it so, preferably one involving a conspiracy, the vaster the better.

The truth has only one purpose — to somehow anyhow get itself expressed — but a lie can have any number of excuses.

There's the self-serving lie: "I am not a crook" and "I did not have sex with that woman" and "Mission accomplished" and "Why, heck no, governor, if you grant me clemency I wouldn't even think about going out and killing a bunch of old ladies or policemen."

There are lies you tell children: "This'll hurt me more than it does you" and   "Good job!" And lies just for old-timers: "No, Momma, we're not putting you in the nursing home; we're just going to visit."

There are lies to buy time: "Your power will be restored by 8:45 this evening" and "I'm putting that in the mail even as we speak." And lies of desperation: "Rover ate my theme paper on Beowulf" and "I swear, officer, before I shot him I would've swore that mail carrier was a buck deer. I even seen horns."

There are lies to comfort the bereaved — on the obit page every day. And lies that attempt to deny the obvious: " This isn't about the money" and  "I'm the real victim here." Egregious, laughable lies you won't hear except at a political speaking: "I'm just so happy to be with you tonight here in Gould."

There are lies of outright flattery: "The new hairpiece looks really great." Earnest lies: "Whatever's mine is yours." And sardonic ones:   "Aw, yeah, I could sit here all day listening to you brag on your grandchildren."

There are lies to cover arses, like the ones about Saddam's WMDs, and lies to gull rubes with, like Bro. Copeland's prosperity-gospel lies. Lies and more lies. Lies, damned lies, statistics.

Some of these are benign enough, even well-intentioned, meant to cushion harsh truths or to evade them. That's not to pardon them or grant them respectability, but they lack the toxicity of this 2010 batch of lies — the nastiest since the tail-gunner kept the dossier. These cutting-edge lying liars have no interest in even the pretense of fair 'n' balanced lying. All they ask of the lies that audition for them is that they punish somebody. Gratuitously is OK. Maybe even preferable.

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