LIE PATROL….It’s easy to get cynical about politicians lying, but last night’s debate was remarkable for the number of times Dick Cheney told flat-out fibs. Both candidates stretched the facts here and there, and both of them sometimes left out important context ? but Cheney was the only one to brazenly lie in front of a national audience, and he did it at least half a dozen times. Here’s a summary:

What He Said

The Actual Truth

“The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.”

Cheney has met Edwards at least three times: at a prayer breakfast in 2001, at Elizabeth Dole’s swearing-in ceremony in 2003, and backstage at Meet the Press.

“Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you Senator Gone.”

Cheney was referring to The Pilot, a small paper in Pinehurst, NC ? not Edwards’ hometown. What’s more, as they themselves put it today, The Pilot hasn’t ‘taken to calling him’ anything.” In fact, they used this term only once in an editorial run 15 months ago.

“The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11…”

Cheney knows perfectly well that he’s been one of the administration’s biggest boosters of alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. In September 2003 Cheney said “[Iraq is] the geographical base of the terrorists who had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9-11.” What’s more, he has suggested that Saddam Hussein was connected with 9/11 on numerous other occasions.

“…the 90 percent figure is just dead wrong. When you include the Iraqi security forces that have suffered casualties, as well as the allies, they’ve taken almost 50 percent of the casualties in operations in Iraq.”

Edwards wasn’t “dead wrong.” He was dead right. Iraq isn’t part of the coalition, and as of Tuesday 1,061 American service members had been killed compared to 136 from non-U.S. coalition forces. That’s 88% of all coalition casualties.

John Edwards:

While he was CEO of Halliburton, they paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false information on their company, just like Enron and Ken Lay.

They did business with Libya and Iran, two sworn enemies of the United States.

They’re now under investigation for having bribed foreign officials during that period of time.

Not only that, they’ve gotten a $7.5 billion no-bid contract in Iraq, and instead of part of their money being withheld, which is the way it’s normally done, because they’re under investigation, they’ve continued to get their money.

Dick Cheney:

They know the charges are false.

They know that if you go, for example, to [sic], an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.

Cheney meant to refer to, but it doesn’t really matter because they don’t have anything that addresses Edwards’ accusations anyway. In fact, Edwards’ charges are all accurate.

(In a statement released after the debate, said, “In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn’t profited personally while in office from Halliburton’s Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad. But Edwards was talking about Cheney’s responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.”)

“The Kerry record on taxes is one basically of voting for a large number of tax increases — 98 times in the United States Senate.”

That’s a change from the old charge that Kerry has voted to increase taxes 350 times, but it’s still false. ? yes, them again ? says Cheney’s number isn’t even close to the truth.

“A great many of our small businesses pay taxes under the personal income taxes rather than the corporate rate. And about 900,000 small businesses will be hit if you do, in fact, do what they want to do with the top bracket.”

Cheney’s assertion is taken from this report by the Tax Policy Center. However, the 900,000 number (actually 995,000) refers to individuals with any amount of business income, not to small businesses themselves. The correct number for actual businesses with employees is only 72,000. Needless to say, Dick Cheney knows this perfectly well.

(It’s also worth pointing out that under Kerry’s plan there are 17.2 million individuals with business income who would get tax cuts. On a net basis, therefore, 16.2 million individuals with business income would pay less tax under Kerry’s plan. For small businesses, a net of 1.2 million would pay less tax under Kerry’s plan.)