The notorious “e-mail forward” has become a staple in the rightwing’s arsenal of weapons deployed in political warfare. No longer is it necessary to spend millions of dollars investigating a president for imagined and invented charges or sending out party soldiers to Sunday talk shows to repeat exaggerated and usually false offenses by Democrats. Republicans have a more effective way of throwing tofu (that is, artificial red meat) to their waiting masses.

Did you get that e-mail saying Bill Clinton didn’t do anything to the terrorists after the first World Trade Towers bombing in 1993? The “facts” in it were completely fabricated. Did your husband forward you the piece about Hillary Clinton helping free two Black Panthers accused of torturing and murdering Alex Rackley? It, too, never happened.

The problem with political urban myths is that, unlike other legends that evolve over time, these are wholly manufactured to fool a gullible audience. In most cases, that audience is rank-and-file Republican voters. They helped spread the “Al Gore said he invented the internet” story via e-mail even after it became common knowledge Wired Magazine misquoted the Vice President’s interview on CNN’s Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer. And just in case you’re wondering, Col. Oliver North NEVER testified before Sen. Al Gore about the threat of Osama bin Laden.

The last presidential election cycle was particularly brutal – from a ridiculously obvious faked picture of Sen. John Kerry with Jane Fonda to the dubious claims from the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” that called into question Kerry’s military service to his country. It seems conservative voters are eager to have their disdain for Democrats validated and Republican operatives are more than willing to fill that market demand with tall tales of intrique, treason, and murder.

What can we expect from the upcoming election? We’ve already seen a wild, yet false, accusation that Barack Obama is a radical muslim and he attended a “radical muslim religious school” in Indonesia. Similarly, just this week conservative media outlets like Drudge Report and FOX News took a speech by Hillary Clinton in Selma, Alabama, in which she quoted an old hymn written in a southern dialect, and tried to make it sound as though she was pandering to southern voters by imitating their accent. Haven’t heard that one yet? It will probably appear in your inbox by lunch time.

In the arena of politics, there are enough real issues to keep us all entertained without falling for every story that passes through your e-mail. Even if it concerns a candidate you deplore, wanting it to be true will not make it true.

(For Centrist news and opinion, visit DonkeyDigest! )

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