477…. The McCain campaign loves to say that Barack Obama “voted 94 times for higher taxes.” It’s a staple of McCain/Palin stump speeches; it’s in the campaign’s attack ads; it’s on the lips of every surrogate. Palin even repeated the line three times during Thursday’s debate.

They’re lying, of course, and they know it. In order to come up with the number, McCain & Co. have to play some pretty ridiculous games. If, for example, Obama voted against a tax cut, then that counts as voting for higher taxes. If Obama voted for lowering taxes for some by closing tax loopholes for others, then that counts as voting for higher taxes, too. If Obama voted for non-binding budget resolutions, then that counts as voting for higher taxes.

True to form, McCain/Palin made the claim, it was debunked, and they kept repeating the discredited attack anyway. That is, of course, what they do, and it helps make a distinction between mistakes and lies.

But instead of just hammering the Republican ticket for lying, the Obama campaign had another idea: what if we counted John McCain’s tax-related votes and use John McCain’s standards for tax increases?

The results were interesting, to put it mildly. According to McCain, Obama voted 94 tax increases since 2005. Using the same methodology, McCain voted for 105 tax increases since 2005. The Republican ticket has some trouble with math, but the last time I checked, 105 is a bigger number than 94.

What’s more, taking this one step further, McCain, using his own standard, has voted for 477 tax increases over the course his lengthy congressional career.

As far as I can tell, this is just a web video, not an ad the Obama campaign plans to put on the air. In a way, that’s a shame — if voters keep hearing the “94 tax increases” lie, the “477 tax increases” line may have a certain salience.

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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.