Just when I think Arizona politicians can't get any stupider, along comes Jon Kyl. As you may know, Kyl is one of Arizona's two Republican U.S. senators. The other, John McCain, propelled Sarah Palin to national prominence as his vice presidential running mate. Just when you think Arizona politicians can't get any stupider.
Kyl recently achieved national prominence himself, as the butt of a running joke on Twitter touched off by Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." During the debate over the federal budget last week, Kyl decided to do a little grandstanding and declared that "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" is provide abortions. Well, that misses the mark by a wide margin. In reality, Planned Parenthood spends about 3 percent of its money on abortions, and by federal law can use no tax dollars on them. The rest of Planned Parenthood's effort goes to such devious programs as health care and family planning services.
In other words, Kyl lied. Flat-out lied. Lying is nothing new in politics, of course. However, some politicians like Kyl aren't smart enough to know how to play the game.
When called on it, his office tried to circle around the fact of the bald-faced lie by saying Kyl's assertion was "not intended to be a factual statement." What was it intended to be? Well, it was intended to be a soundbite playing to tea partiers and bombastic talk radio hosts. Saying that would have been a bit too honest, though.
So all Kyl could do was wait for Stephen Colbert to launch his Twitter feed, #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement, in which members of the public are invited to submit their own statements about Kyl that aren't intended to be factual.
Omigosh, have they ever responded. Some examples: "Once a year, Jon Kyl retreats to the Arizona desert and deposits 2 million egg sacs under the sand." Or "Jon Kyl thinks no one can see him when he puts a paper bag on his head." Or "Republicans are nice people." My contribution: "Jon Kyl is a form of life that went extinct many thousands of years ago -- oh wait, that is the truth."
I hope you'll visit Twitter and post your own statement that isn't intended to be factual. There's one fact that is true, though. If we (and by we, I mean all of us -- Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party members and all) don't stop tolerating the kind of untruth that Kyl practiced, we could become the victims of our own rhetoric. We may lose the sight of what really is true, and what really matters. Truth matters. Always has, always will.