Dear Paul LePage,
I’ve been trying to think of a nice way to say this, you being a major-party candidate for governor and all. But I’ve been through my thesaurus front to back and I’m still stuck on one word, and only one word, that accurately describes your behavior in recent days.
You’re a liar.
Not a truth stretcher. Not an exaggerator. Not a fact twister.
No, sir. In your interview with Howie Carr on Boston’s WRKO radio Friday, you proved once and for all that you, the clear front-runner in the race to be Maine’s next governor, are a flat-out liar.
Howie, you’ll recall, asked you about your recent dust-up with the media over questions relating to your wife’s illegal claim of property-tax exemptions on the two homes that she (and strangely, only she) owns in Maine and Florida.
Now Mr. LePage, all of Maine saw and heard how you shouted at the reporters before storming out of a press conference in Augusta and called the same questions “bull––” at a subsequent press conference in Portland. Come to think of it, much of the country has heard about it, now that the videos have gone viral.
Yet there you were last week, giggling over the phone as Howie gladly surrendered his role as interviewer and instead became your honorary enabler. Let’s listen:
Howie: What happened, Paul? Tell me about it.
LePage: Well, they ah somebody dropped the bomb on me, the f-bomb, and I retaliated. But the only part that made the news was my retaliation.
Howie: Did you swear as well?
LePage: No, I didn’t swear. I just got a little angry with the reporters.
The truth is, no one at either press conference “dropped the f-bomb” on you. (I’m told that a reporter at yet another press conference that day, in Bangor, was overheard using the “f-word” in a private conversation after the event, but it was neither directed toward you nor within your earshot.)
The truth also is you did swear – at least according to the TV and radio producers who now listen to you with one finger on the bleep button.
The truth is, you have what looks like a hard-wired inability to tell the truth.
From your claim in July that Democrats were casting aspersions on your Franco-American heritage (never happened) to your recollection that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection once made you do censuses on both black flies and buffaloes (never happened) to your insistence that your name was “never ever” on the deed to your wife’s home in Waterville (it was), you clearly believe that nothing – not even the truth – can stop you as you bulldoze your way toward Election Day.
That would explain the ease with which you spun your most recent yarn about the “f-bomb.”
And alas, it looks like there’s more to come. During your chat with Howie, you claimed that the Democrats so far have called you “a tax cheat, a draft dodger and a sexual harassment person.”
A draft dodger? Hasn’t happened.
A sexual harassment person? Let’s go back to the tape:
Howie: The Democratic Party is accusing someone of sexual harassment?
LePage: Yeah (giggling).
Howie: Now that’s funny!
LePage: It is funny (more giggling).
Once again, no one has uttered a single word publicly about whether you are “a sexual harassment person.” It simply hasn’t happened.
And should what you later called a “rumor” that you’re a “sexual harassment person” find its way into the news, let the record show that the first person to open the door to the issue was not the media, not the Democrats and not the independents. It was you (subject, of course, to your inevitable denial that you ever said such a thing).
Now I know there are many who, for reasons that elude me, are afraid to confront you on what’s begun to look like a serious and gaping hole in your character.
To be perfectly honest, Mr. LePage, I’m at a loss to explain why Libby Mitchell, Eliot Cutler and your other opponents in this race aren’t calling more attention to the fact that whenever you open your mouth, the truth gets mugged.
I also know that in this truly unbelievable election season, the mere mention of your serial dishonesty makes your supporters love you all the more.
Sure, sure, I know they all hate the media because we have the gall to ask you uncomfortable questions and we have an agenda and we’re in everybody’s back pocket but yours. I have no problem with that stuff – it comes with the turf.
What I can’t fathom, however, is how your “loyal base” blithely transforms your blatant dishonesty into a virtue. How so many of them dismiss your fabrications as “telling it like it is,” yet lambaste President Obama as the nation’s liar-in-chief when he calmly (and accurately) asserts that he is, in fact, an American-born Christian.
One more thing about that chat with Howie.
Somewhere between your creation of the “sexual harassment person” and your invention of the “f-bomb,” you said, “It’s unbelievable what they can come up with. And the problem is, you know, you can tell the truth but it doesn’t make any difference because they splatter it on TV time again, time again, time again … “
I honestly have no idea what that means. But I’ll bet it’s going to get you a standing ovation.
Then you told Howie, with just the right touch of self-pity, that you “hope and pray the people aren’t being fooled.”
Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org