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By Paul Krugman, guest columnist

With his grudge match against Saddam resolved, an presidential election looming, and the "War or Terror" largely forgotten, George Bush is again straining our credulity to the limit.

How many times must we go down this path? We were promised Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," yet the criminal mastermind remains at large. We were told horrific tales of Iraqi WMDs, yet these stories still remain unsubstantiated. We were assured that our once robust economy would be mended, yet this administrations remains committed to tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits.

With the White House's credibility at an all-time low, it's unfathomable that they would choose this moment to unleash a yet another taradiddle on the American citizenry. Nonetheless, the Bush Administration yesterday introduced a new food product -- full of the rich, creamy taste we love, and great for baking, cooking, or spreading on our favorite foods -- that they audaciously vow is not butter.

Again we are asked to ignore the evidence of our eyes. Even the most dogmatic of Republicans must concede that this appears, in all respects, to be butter, from its just-whipped texture to its light-golden hue. And perhaps the political orchestrators behind this latest canard presumed that we would take their statements on faith, without once sampling the substance in question. But one taste -- a taste I, personally, have taken and enjoyed -- is enough to put Bush's assertions to the lie. That this is butter is an ineludible fact.

As with all compulsive prevaricators, the White House is not satisfied to simply insist that the most paradoxical of statements are true ("War Is Peace," "Ignorance Is Strength," "This Is Not Butter," etc.) but feels compelled to embellish even these outlandish claims. This product, we're told, contains only 90 calories per serving, and is available as a spray, as a squeeze -- even as a calcium-enriched spread. Spurning the age-old adage that the biggest of lies must contain a grain of truth, Bush seems content to pile falsehood upon falsehood until the target audience is gulled by the overwhelming quantity of untruth.

Many in these uncertain times will rush to give the President the benefit of the doubt; others will insist that it is our patriotic duty not to publicly question the Commander-In-Chief's veracity. And perhaps it's possible for the majority of American to willingly suspend their collective disbelief one more time. But not I. My capacity for credence has been exceeded; I can't believe it's not butter.

Posted on May 07, 2003 to News