EVEN THE AP…. As regular readers know, I’ve been pretty frustrated by the Associated Press’ coverage of the presidential campaign this year, so it’s only fair to give credit where credit is due. This is a solid piece.

The “Straight Talk Express” has detoured into doublespeak.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a self-proclaimed tell-it-like-it-is maverick, keeps saying his running mate, Sarah Palin, killed the federally funded Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she pulled her support only after the project became a political embarrassment. He accuses Democrat Barack Obama of calling Palin a pig, which did not happen. He says Obama would raise nearly everyone’s taxes, when independent groups say 80 percent of families would get tax cuts instead.

Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain’s skirting of facts has stood out this week. It has infuriated and flustered Obama’s campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims.

The piece added that politicians “usually modify or drop claims when a string of newspaper and TV news accounts concludes they are untrue or greatly exaggerated,” but noted that McCain and Palin continue to repeat falsehoods, even after they’ve been exposed.

The AP didn’t come right out and use the word “lying,” but why quibble? It’s a solid analysis piece from a news outlet that seemed more interested in delivering donuts than accountability.

The next step, of course, is noting the trend and highlighting the narrative. As Yglesias noted, “[T]he big question isn’t about whether the press writes some good individual stories. The big question is about whether the press creates a narrative. John McCain keeps saying things that aren’t true. So does his running mate. So do his campaign ads. So do his surrogates on television. When does that become a narrative? When do we get stories about how the McCain campaign has been ‘dogged by questions about its honesty?’”

Quite right. In 2000, Gore was unfairly labeled a serial exaggerator. Four years later, Kerry was unfairly labeled a flip-flopper. This year, the obvious narrative is that McCain/Palin tell pathological lies. Connect the dots.

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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.