THE BOGUS FLAG STORY…. It seems Fox News and some far-right blogs are excited about the latest in a series of lies from the McCain campaign — the notion that thousands of American flags from the Democratic convention were going to be thrown away.

Like far too many of the stories pushed by the McCain campaign, and embraced by Fox News and far-right blogs, it’s not true.

Days before the anniversary of September 11, on the same morning that John McCain and Barack Obama released a joint statement pledging to avoid politics in light of the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, McCain’s campaign accused Democrats of throwing away 12,000 American flags.

“The campaign says the flags were recovered from Invesco Field after the Democrats concluded their convention there,” Fox News reported, “and they are going to be used as part of the warm-up ceremonies before McCain takes the stage” for a rally in Colorado Springs, Col.

But according to a senior official involved in organizing the Democratic convention, the McCain camp is simply lying about the flags.

“All of the flags at Invesco were picked up and put in bags and into storage, along with the unused flags and campaign signs. The flags were going to be donated, and the signs were going to be sent out to be used elsewhere,” the official said, speaking anonymously since he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The “story” — I use the word loosely — has been promoted by Fox News’ Carl Cameron, perhaps best known for promoting fabricated nonsense about John Kerry four years ago.

In other words, consider the source.

A Democratic convention official told the Huffington Post, “It’s pretty reprehensible on their part. Someone made an assumption, took the flags, and essentially lied about what was going to happen to them. I mean, c’mon, we were never ever going to throw out flags.”

It’s hard not to get the impression that Republicans are looking for some kind of symbol to help them avoid discussing substance. For a while, it was arugula. Then flag pins. Then Paris Hilton. Soon after, it was tire gauges. Now, it’s convention flags. Whether it’s true or even coherent is apparently irrelevant.

This election is not about issues,” McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said this week. I thought Davis was offering an assessment, but it was apparently some kind of promise.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.