2 ‘Pants on Fire’ rat­ings made list


Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - Con­tin­ued from B Con­tact W. Gard­ner Selby at 445-3644.

His cam­paign had cited polls of GOP pri­mary vot­ers in three states, not of vot­ers na­tion­wide. When we told Jesse Ben­ton, Paul’s spokesman, that th­ese polls were not na­tional, Ben­ton said, “Re­lax, dude, it was a rally speech to sup­port­ers, not a ma­jor pol­icy speech or a de­bate.”

We found that the sin­gle na­tional poll that ad­dressed the gold ques­tion found 44 per­cent in fa­vor of a gold stan­dard, not a ma­jor­ity. We rated Paul’s poll shout as False.

Speak­ing an­other day at Texas A&M Univer­sity, Paul said: “I think we have way too many laws on the books. ... Just on Jan. 1 of this year, there were 40,000 new laws put on the books in one day.”

We sus­pect Paul’s fig­ure orig­i­nated in a group’s news re­lease stat­ing that state leg­is­la­tures in 2011 passed more than 40,000 bills and res­o­lu­tions into law. But Paul’s ref­er­ences to the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter and his hope to be the first pres­i­dent to “get rid of 40,000 laws” prompted us to con­clude that he mis­tak­enly was sug­gest­ing that 40,000 new fed­eral laws had been passed, and we rated this claim False. It ranked No. 10 among our reader faves.

Coming in at No. 9 was our re­view of a chain email sug­gest­ing the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity had “ex­e­cuted an or­der for enough rounds of .40-cal­iber am­mu­ni­tion to kill ev­ery man, woman and child in the United States.”

We found that Home­land Se­cu­rity had in­deed con­tracted to buy up to 450 mil­lion .40-cal­iber bul­lets — a to­tal ex­ceed­ing the pop­u­la­tion. Sig­nif­i­cantly, though, the con­tract cov­ered five years and was for am­mu­ni­tion rou­tinely used by of­fi­cers from a va­ri­ety of agen­cies dur­ing tar­get prac­tice. This email, which had an el­e­ment of truth, rated Mostly False.

Our No. 8 fa­vorite story was pub­lished in 2011 af­ter Michael Wil­liams, later ap­pointed Texas ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sioner, urged Twit­ter fol­low­ers to join him in seek­ing pol­icy en­cour­ag­ing all forms of en­ergy pro­duc­tion. He wrote: “Gas prices have gone up $2 since (Barack) Obama took of­fice.” That re­flected gas prices on Obama’s watch, but his state­ment rated Half True be­cause it im­plied the pres­i­dent was at fault while the key fac­tors be­hind gas prices are be­yond any pres­i­dent’s con­trol.

Our No. 5 fact-check was sparked by coun­try singer Hank Wil­liams Jr., who told a Fort Worth au­di­ence that “we’ve got a Mus­lim for a pres­i­dent.” Not so. Obama’s Chris­tian faith has been pub­lic for years. Wil­liams’ re­mark earned a Pants on Fire!

In a July de­bate be­fore Democrats nom­i­nated him to run for the U.S. Se­nate, former state Rep. Paul Sadler be­moaned the fed­eral debt, ig­nit­ing our No. 4 fa­vorite factcheck by say­ing the U.S. has “never seen na­tional debt like this. It dou­bled dur­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.” In raw terms, both the pub­lic debt and gross fed­eral debt more than dou­bled dur­ing Ge­orge W. Bush’s pres­i­dency. Ad­just­ing for in­fla­tion, gross debt in­creased 70 per­cent, while pub­lic debt in­creased 88 per­cent — not quite dou­bling. Sadler’s claim came out Mostly True.

Our check of a claim by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Don­nell yielded the year’s No. 3 fa­vorite. O’Don­nell spoke proudly of his fa­ther at­tend­ing col­lege on the post-World War II ben­e­fits package that trans­formed the na­tion be­fore say­ing of the orig­i­nal GI Bill: “It’s the most suc­cess­ful ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram that we’ve ever had in this coun­try — and the crit­ics called it wel­fare.”

O’Don­nell’s look back had an el­e­ment of truth in that some crit­ics of the pro­posed law fret­ted that its un­em­ploy­ment com­pen­sa­tion el­e­ment would en­cour­age lazi­ness. But his­to­ri­ans said “wel­fare” was not in­voked. We rated the claim Mostly False.

Mak­ing a case for Obama at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, San An­to­nio Mayor Julián Cas­tro said: “Mitt Rom­ney, quite sim­ply, doesn’t get it. Re­cently, he vis­ited a univer­sity in Ohio and gave the stu­dents there a lit­tle en­tre­pre­neur­ial ad­vice. ‘Start a busi­ness,’ he said. “But how? ‘Bor­row money if you have to from your par­ents.’ ” Rom­ney did say that, we found in read­ers’ No. 2 fa­vorite, which rated Cas­tro’s re­cap as True.

Our No. 1 reader fa­vorite devel­oped af­ter an Amer­i­can-States­man re­porter heard a rous­ing East Texas stump speech by Craig James, who sought the Repub­li­can U.S. Se­nate nom­i­na­tion. James said: “Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton are ne­go­ti­at­ing with the United Na­tions about do­ing a treaty that will ban the use of firearms.” We found no ev­i­dence of Obama or Clin­ton in­di­cat­ing they wanted the July U.N. con­fer­ence on an arms trade treaty to ban the use of firearms; an ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der­ling said in a speech the government would not back a treaty in­fring­ing on the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

James’ claim was Pants on Fire ridicu­lous.

Spot a fac­tual state­ment we should check in 2013? Write us at poli­tifact@states­man.com or call 512-445-3644.

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