Lying is as intrinsic to politics as malt is to beer. Only a fool would attempt to change either one.

Unfortunately, major American breweries regularly turn out beer-like products with so little malt that they can legally be sold as bottled water flavored with what tastes like a faint hint of deer urine.

On a more positive note, this country’s politicians keep insisting they’re telling the truth. Which is almost always a lie. So, we’re good there.

Among those who deserve credit for maintaining the traditional recipe for campaign rhetoric – slightly less fact in every statement than vermouth in a dry martini – is Republican U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column about Summers’ rapidly shifting positions on abortion. For most of his two-plus decades in politics, he’s been pro-choice. That’s the stand he took when he launched his first unsuccessful bid for Congress in 1994. And his second failed attempt in 2004. And that’s what he still claimed during his third losing effort in 2008. But in running for the Senate this year, Summers has regularly made comments that could be interpreted as pro-life. For instance, he told the Bangor Daily News, “I support a woman’s right to an abortion in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother.”

I was confused by that change, so I called Summers’ campaign for clarification. I got no response. But after the column came out, I received an angry email from his campaign manager, Lance Dutson.

“Summers is pro choice,” Dutson wrote, “always has been.”

Now, I was really confused. Not about whether Summers was lying about where he stood on abortion, because it was obvious he was. But I wasn’t sure which of his contrary positions was the falsehood. I emailed Dutson back, asking him to explain, but he’s a busy guy and hasn’t gotten around to replying yet.

While I’m waiting for that to happen, I’ll try to sort out truth from fiction in the sordid saga of soon-to-be ex-Democratic state Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx of Brunswick. Cornell du Houx was one of the bright young lights of Maine politics until his ex-girlfriend, Democratic state Rep. Erin Herbig of Belfast, accused him of stalking and harassing her, including breaking into her apartment and taking photos of her while she was asleep. Cornell du Houx denied everything, telling anyone who would listen that he had never even been interviewed by the Maine State Police officer investigating Herbig’s complaint. The case was settled when the two signed a confidential agreement that remained secret for about eight seconds before being leaked to the news media.

Here’s what Cornell du Houx – still claiming to be totally innocent – agreed to:

He would stay out of Belfast for the next 10 years.

He would provide Capitol Police with 48 hours notice if he intended to visit the State House in Augusta.

He would turn over to Herbig’s lawyers any computer hard drives or other devices with photos of Herbig or other sleeping women on them.

He would pay Herbig’s legal bills, which amounted to $9,000.

And he would not run for re-election.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking those are just the sort of incredibly restrictive and punitive requirements to which any innocent guy would consent.

Oh wait, that’s not what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking Cornell du Houx is about as credible in his denials of stalking as Summers is on abortion.

Cornell du Houx told the Bangor Daily he only signed off on all that stuff because “I was so fed up that I just wanted it to end.”

He also said that early next year, he intends to go on active duty in the U.S. Navy (Cornell du Houx is an ex-Marine), which prefers that its male officers not be involved in messy court cases that might result in female subordinates feeling thoroughly creeped out in their presence. And he added that he might want to resume his political career someday, possibly by running for his current seat as soon as 2014, by which time his constituents would undoubtedly have forgotten all about this weird little escapade. (Of course, no future opponent would ever stoop so low as to refresh their memories.)

I suppose there are truth-seeker out there who wish the likes of Cornell du Houx and Summers were exceptions to the general rule concerning lying for political purposes. I also suppose there are those beer drinkers who wish Budweiser or Miller made an even lower-calorie brew, one with so little alcohol in it that the very act of consuming the stuff increases your sobriety.

But water without fermented malt isn’t really beer, and politics without blatant falsehoods would be duller than middle school civics class. Also, quieter than the Summers campaign when asked about the candidate’s conflicting statements on abortion.

In the end, beer needs malt, politics needs liars, and I need both to keep these columns coming.

Du Houx’s on first? Answers (and other insults) may be emailed to me at [email protected]