MARK KIRK’S VERACITY BACK IN THE NEWS…. The good news for Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican Senate hopeful in Illinois, is that he’s gone a few weeks without new revelations surrounding his exaggerated past. The bad news is, the streak ended today.

Kirk — if that is his real name — has experienced a humiliating couple of months. He’s been caught lying repeatedly about everything from his military service to having been a nursery-school teacher. He’s made a wide variety of false claims about foreign policy issues, which is supposed to be an area of expertise for him, and has even been forced to literally flee reporters trying to get Kirk to reconcile his stories with reality.

Today, the Chicago Tribune finds yet another Kirk story that doesn’t hold up. (thanks to reader R.G.)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk for a decade has told the story of how he nearly drowned when he was 16 while sailboating on Lake Michigan and how his rescue by the Coast Guard inspired him to pursue a career in public service.

The story is sprinkled with attention-grabbing details, but there are inconsistencies in Kirk’s statements that suggest parts of his real-life drama have been embellished, a Tribune review has found.

In the most recent instance, the 50-year-old North Shore congressman told a boating magazine that he stood on his overturned sailboat and watched the sun set, when in fact he was rescued in midafternoon on June 15, 1976.

Kirk also has said he swam up to a mile in 42-degree water and that he was rescued with his body temperature hovering two degrees from death. Those declarations are questionable, based on interviews with an eyewitness and medical experts.

Look, I don’t much care what happened to Kirk as a 16-year-old. He’s described this “as one of the most important events” of his entire life, and I’m sure it was traumatic.

The point is the larger pattern — Mark Kirk tells a lot of stories, asks voters to believe those stories, and then we find out that those stories aren’t true. In some instances, Kirk’s tall tales are demonstrable lies with no basis in fact, but more often, the Republican embellishes reality, giving the truth a more dramatic spin that makes him look better.

If it were just an anecdote here or there that was exaggerated for effect, this would be meaningless. But Kirk has done this repeatedly, with a wide variety of subjects over the course of many years, as if he has some kind of uncontrollable urge to mislead those around him about his own life.

It seems, in other words, Kirk can’t seem to help himself when it comes to telling tall tales. How voters are supposed to find Mark Kirk trustworthy going forward remains a mystery.

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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.