Have we come to expect public lies?

We expect Fidel Castro to lie to us. We assume Osama Bin Ladin is telling lies when he makes one of his infamous videotapes. But, are our fellow Americans feeding us fabrications on a regular basis?

Probably. Do we care? Probably not. And, that?s the sad part. We are beginning to expect a lack of truth in all segments of society, from sports to school, from the president to the preacher.

This past week highlighted the kinds of tall tales we are being told on a regular basis. The president made good on his threat to veto SCHIP, the bill that would provide extended health coverage to U.S. children, saying the measure would lead to socialized medicine and would allow kids to get free care who didn?t deserve it.

According to National Public Radio, President Bush has claimed the current law is good enough; it stipulates that all children can receive care at emergency rooms.

Not true, says NPR.

The president also claimed families with incomes of more than $80,000 would be eligible under the vetoed plan.

Again, not true. Either the president, the man with the most access to be greatest minds of the time, is ignorant of the facts, or he just likes to skew them to meet his whims. You decide.

Of course, anyone with a memory longer than eight years will also recall our former president caught with his pants down, so to speak, when he lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Is it just politics as usual?

Question: How can you tell if a politician is lying? Answer: His lips are moving.

Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones admitted to illegal steroid use last week after previously denying she did anything wrong. The ?world?s fastest mom? won five medals at the 2000 games, but now she cannot run fast enough to hide from her past.

An NPR story dated Oct. 6 pointed out Jones acknowledged using steroids before the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia, in a letter to her family and friends, according to a story in The Washington Post.

?I want to apologize for all of this. I am sorry for disappointing you all in so many ways,? the Post reported Jones said in the letter.

Then again, we have become used to athletes trying to cover up their tracks with lies.

Despite several independent confirmations, Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has maintained his innocence on doping charges.

Barry Bonds continues to fight an uphill public relations battle over whether the home run king received hormonal help. He?s not talking, but he?s not admitting, either. Is that a lie by omission?

Blackwater, the company charged with protecting the rich, famous and infamous in Iraq, has had its collective hands slapped for taking the offensive when it feels threatened.

Blackwater officials, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, have said the company hasn?t killed anybody. At least not on purpose. And, hey, when the sheriffs arrived in Dodge City, the people who wanted law and order had to expect a few casualties, right?

Maybe we should just anticipate that our national leaders, sports heroes and military personnel will forward fabrications to us on a regular basis. It?s all just business as usual. But, what damage is being done on the local level by this mentality of mendacity?

Maybe none. Teenagers have always lied, even when caught red-handed. That trend is not likely to change much, no matter what happens.

On the other hand, I have noticed an increase in numbers of fibs told by parents to protect their children from the penalties of unexcused absences from school.

If a mother or father calls to report a student sick, are we in the system likely to question her or him?

Certainly no one who ever hopes to win administrator of the year would dream of doing such a thing.

So, the schools are forced to take the parents? word for it, even when a student is seen running around town during the time he or she is allegedly at home ?sick.?

As adults, we all have to set the standards for truth. That includes teachers, who shouldn?t just make up answers when they don?t know the correct ones.

Preachers who get caught in inappropriate situations likewise should own up to the truth and admit they have been wrong.

Used-car salesmen, politicians, doctors, even lawyers, should be held accountable to strict standards when it comes to honesty. After all, we are probably not fooling anyone. Nobody is perfect, so none of us will believe anyone who claims to be.

So, parents, do your best to set the standard of truth for your children.

Ministers, practice what you preach.

Politicians, don?t make any promises you don?t intend to keep.

Athletes, don?t let your ego sign checks your body can?t cash.

And teachers, if you don?t know the answer to a question, admit it. Then, go look it up.

That?s the policy I plan to employ. I wouldn?t lie to you.

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