I lie, you lie, we all lie, from ``Let's have lunch'' to ``Officer, I could swear I was only going 60'' to ``You look great in that hat.''
But no matter how reflexive the social lie, most of us know when to draw the line -- for instance when a citizen raises his right hand and swears to tell the truth, when a public servant pledges to uphold the Constitution.
As one White House scandal succeeds another, it's clear some folks don't know where the line is drawn. An early example is the dissembling that got us into the war in Iraq; the latest is the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys for ``performance-related reasons.''
If it weren't for e-mails -- this generation's Nixon tapes - - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's statement that the firings were simply ``an overblown personnel matter'' might have stood. After all, who has more of a duty to tell the truth than the country's chief law-enforcement official?
Since his first pass at taking responsibility without actually doing so, Gonzales can't issue corrections fast enough to keep up with conflicting evidence. He said he wasn't at any meetings discussing the firings. Calendar notations say he was.
He wasn't kept in the loop, he says -- perfectly plausible, given his generally clueless nature -- yet documents show he was. The Justice Department said White House political adviser Karl Rove wasn't in on the firings. E-mails say he was.
Read the whole column here.